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Weary and wary, Iraq forces fight ‘house-by-house’ in Mosul

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Author: ReutersTue, 2017-03-14ID: 1489440424828311900MOSUL: Iraqi special forces are engaged in a punishing and paranoid close-quarters battle against Daesh in western Mosul as they seek to drive the terrorists out of their last urban bastion in Iraq.The urban warfare is now more intense than ever, both because Daesh militants have been backed into one half of the city and because the west — home to the old city and city center — is more densely populated.“The fighting is at much closer quarters. It was street-by-street — now it’s house-by-house,” said Iraqi commando Alaa Shaker, 32, a member of the elite Counter Terrorism Service (CTS).“We are often literally in the same house, on the roof, and Daesh is downstairs. Sometimes we drop grenades. If there are civilians, families in the homes, we shout to them to take cover inside a room.”Seif Rasheed, a 28-year-old CTS medic, said one commando had been killed earlier that day in the same area, shot through the head, and another wounded, shot through the neck and hip.“Daesh men are hiding in homes, opening doors and shooting at troops from just a few meters away,” he said.The men were speaking as they took a break from the fighting to eat lunch in the courtyard of a western Mosul home, in a neighborhood recaptured from Daesh the day before.No one can drop guard. Shaker paused mid-mouthful, stood up, and brought over two assault rifles that were leaning against the wall, setting them down within arm’s reach.“Just in case,” he said, miming that a member of the family living inside might otherwise pick one up and turn it on the soldiers eating there. “That has not happened so far, but you have to be careful — we do not know these people. Daesh has left supporters and sleeper cells behind.”
Main category: Middle-East

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