Bombardment in Iraq's Mosul takes heavy toll on civilians

Posted April 13, 2017

The so-called Islamic State group now only controls less than a fifth of the territory it held in Iraq in 2014, according to an Iraqi military spokesman.

"Daesh controlled 40 percent of Iraqi land" in 2014, Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, the spokesperson of the Joint Operations Command that coordinates the anti-IS effort, told reporters.

"After they used to control 40 percent, they now control only 6.8 percent of Iraq's territory", said Iraqi Brig. Iraqi forces with the backing of the US-led coalition-which has thousands of forces deployed in Iraq and carries out daily air strikes-launched a major offensive to retake Mosul in October 2016.

The terror group removed one ear from 33 soldiers caught fleeing the battle in Mosul, their last stronghold in Iraq, a source told Alsumaria News.

"Military operations in Mosul's right back have been cautiously going on in order to prevent ISIL from using the civilians as human shields".

Various members of the forces, Iraqi and foreign, battling the jihadists have disagreed in the past on control of territory figures but IS has been losing ground steadily over close to two years.

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However, Rasool asserted that the U.S. and other Western countries have provided airstrikes, intelligence and equipment to the Iraqi forces which began their offensive in October to free the city of Mosul from the group.

Rasool also added that more than 50 percent of the western side of Mosul has been liberated from ISIS.

Iraqi forces backed by US-led air strikes have gradually pushed the jihadis out of a string of towns and cities over the past two years, and are now battling the group in Mosul, Iraq's second largest city. "The biggest challenge they face is the civilians".

Victory against IS has come at a staggering cost, with some towns and neighborhoods reduced to rubble by airstrikes and shelling. "They aren't going anywhere - they will be defeated and the people of Mosul will be free", he said.

Col Dorrian said the fight in Western Mosul had been tough but said Islamic State fighters had no escape.