Shi’ite Militias Launch Offensive to Seal off Western Mosul

JFIF;CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 80 C   %# , #&')*)-0-(0%()(C   ((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((( " }!1AQa"q2#BR$3br %&'()*456789:CDEFGHIJSTUVWXYZcdefghijstuvwxyz w!1AQaq"2B #3Rbr $4%&'()*56789:CDEFGHIJSTUVWXYZcdefghijstuvwxyz ?qR(QR^8 x)Q` pSSQS("-J+RHU NUS4-8-<jEZw EU( R$*.*`RTȵ.Q*jqH*T-)PQHbm5".i@cBT,c5al,u JxTܢ-*`+NRbh.E&-# U&MK*}piV" O( ".)1@ 8R< xN) v)hbS.)´1LL .p=M8 Sn)1@XX 1H;Nd) V6#Q,`H8ڜf_ijf;|p?S\1Ͻa:iX{cq l֝o7`uZ10"N/# `my٭(='צhrrF`UD8ruð5 = []RW#q]&s5ga1F)d &*LRbC1ILP1I~)CqE;bS LSHE6RiO4@ "ILQE8 BR)Ie&*LQi+ b2)ja"3M4)qI~)qI(+O"ȦR< E BqNU(QMQR Z@*D-TSTT+6ZS"TT*JCjuZbTRRVS#2ͲT)*U* jE NB`=LQHQRHS(ML@isO{8ۊ­126!A'RnfYUVrJ?V5kK8^)\>v(\ gE.Ji Њu2C!ъ`(;SI&7X$<;/mXn[5O$|cpA5%)^p)n+3;tws]*Ffs^y}j,i ^mUfNxϥrbM4tл܅UX*e)3w^cuzTP\҈A-{ՙcz`8l"EG,\b Z,Cvm$z>} m>e̷ AHN=$(99P}iJ֩3S)T"!":_Ke.(ds$Ӿ1֞${9)1O&+T̚1O!ɰRbLSbJ`7bE LSIf("LPqI~( E4i8"b#PfEJE1(3A LRbE 1KF))TSHHE4a*B8@X5*Erx*@(95*)cBSTTY-HjEZzbLՄT*YH:*Nf*eTP1Zbր=iONp pO8RRxF*@i p-8t!ƒsM RRTMLS"##*jk #uLڵݷۊˉY ֿZR;n2 #$]!kΩtg 4fgyHdN*"3Y\'45lvDFO#`;Զ4cWLҠ,ki3L&ՐMm5e6L9\ӕ:)5pLL\Hj,.U%?-1֚ZXOsZM K]x$qm)qι&S]6cd &S-=U^*a{tywQq1YQP~;%;d0J'v P}F"%&Ψ4*yEBޢDdzRN4@*<҃Ce?-59P)x!ǥErB-C`?9CV AO_)VK*9"hH'q\W\ˀg^?4WPG,kgfF+ +ţء`n3jU_RcN3ӱIFF*LRb#4bE"\V1N+ bQu%4HdR@M>)Ȥ #"EJE7ڐi mbR`3iSF) B)SM""jB)GS@TV("eJ.!TT9QR(1TT)T(( *E7"jHT) L*MH*$ R)=E!R)֤ H r u3 %bVQ9ʚx }j(kn&Q ջ݈Hs:r+_[y5]sںҼ×Kc,h=NNG^"W^CEt奎z[*ibqkR)1ZK0B)4i)=j$dRb&)f(?c1HE>dRb4PIbLS1@␊qP#"!( "EKk Ab1jøuT"B76QV4A(+".\}W4A5 h1]/.jĐHC^֓캒ieCC<ֽ*ƨ0b=*ݲ'gJANޙ"}zqNN5HCM!J)柊CT#"B)f)1O"c1M4Id &)RURbC@Jy %RP!RN"1M4M"4SZCLCȦ@4Hi 44mL4*iTTU-< E"ÖEHZpxVAe:T-}^*sJ: .8bK? ~(lhh@*Hrx)8S&)8P1E8Ss\[m;Ij+(S6q.A~7&FW>,NrFg-=k`^^3k|Y{oR_<#r=uǥ-HK۸N+]Ei)jiOQMZt)8P qX@)@- Z)qERSLV\QwYWדC z 7(aH εJP6PO]k-U3Y*J ؘ,)uWVsAygp*v@$WjW 5NX=+5G#:bsZذLW٫r3<-K2џzWA$ pJVfT 9*,! Q<߼H]Nqz`lQn:cTdRn`ǀ%zqֹ=j{Q76 t5N~y!h~M]ܛ.}L)n=i,e 'X>i,)O·#>je_zENNҙ7ZFSJ  RKIu!DJFn)!RN"⒝M4i1LCN4IN%6iƐi4) 0B)SM0Hii iSMiS4M00Ojecmڦ5e)Q`1pvȁm] 'OG&R$x){p+ffg:iF)ºyG QIKG0-( Z1KE0QNSd8SO7I\, PjF&)1M2Z!"ul**b$uP%(-;=~jV<\ң+s\-Q厤HJ;T6*3XM'jlT2>ҦB3҆"k (EP4Zv67^ʨIUdt^Iaq,qn@XR3zhH r kF@Na u2V;Og }+sas"={sIڡR]1zCROcjEhR⒭44JbIN4m!I@Xn)1N4MM4M!iCM!INii 4M8.i 8i,4qEiN4Hc 0ښh3Mf(2SS!REͬXSR)ԊhXMJUu44+ӅBR),2YLv]+Ȫ bIj<šdؑiTjj@hXSF 9ZEar< `{iOP){И8A4թa bxl+9(Q@85<,]"b€yA*:r04&tX kgK;, ߙ(ɴCzТytVH6"s?Mq6 #?J?Zhb9l` r6JkxE:)&4m`CSbsVtSMG"K[d`E-E&Phƚ)i)BRRNIKAaHh 4i Ӎ%;mՇ]L&v[9utBjjHy4muk+:!(}k\yr) tָ+ɓUǼ;楠:wk4e D>j("&-~&ta%匒s+GR'ZG-,d\03:j7:{\0z:֑F&0kC Y[&; K 11>ƴl/fֳ*1HYV[t3M]-ǖ 51(êyc2 yVoʲU&//[ *e'F<7\t[yJ,Ộcq$U=D駱׃J rK Sz D*81jC6K5ye8SSU&+ZVFnvvXԣhW'kBY5}jdO|*k$U|e{7JYz -AfVU'iNd!gA=ô 9E o+'FSV7ɳRimZFi"IwR2:Zs*MH6)`BQOK( w 5"WY֤/h?fYQRb2៭J~u. }jEXG*$u$X,:,ၸo%c:ٞiKd*jSI=̓䑋3s3ji4cN?£J$+'sR؋P~\.<*6,XII;xjղܞ+=8*HC fgU@xXֵv\d7x ?#Oj&]ٳ 7W,c<L~u ^Qkk9ϕݛ:-3UXAnRJ+;=Jx"M"f}pqғbg3T:gўO(KluT>1I lA.zc-tRZkj?aWռ8yv$Vrg֟hfY6֒eSЌTP #M[!H"3,QM Vjc!7LڴR3h_. c*_8xWPs&NGz:Ӵ =א&-lmN:\6.~`Ɏ+Cf:zքM(7zW;X'(pzqimP<ׂ>SYˌ>~䣌݇sty0;W+_LԷG{]0wf3ks9A=̦`M.ه8[[^ YcNE S3iܒ<}Ӗ j;MM% ҦkQ+l6ku84;Gދ &@52=VFWT>IXSLMj[FVFZun\4\H06[bŽUy>9Il!j֖mpH:Oh UU -eYD-qUr9O|).Sz:\G8 qVf*pVWFmM4q}j+q >4ЪLM0m4cZ/J$R8`µ0 S \,|3wnZ-PsP[?2GZ$z%p!eF,=j5vd-ҠY/RQU绎TCZuP0#aK|z*TT gG #\Ԟ<) NZS.c4<8x)Qv5q4䐞OLP&ِ0mbN0p+J csۀR"ƁI䎤Qm4S "5`LFTTA9>Gq@2y(>sVBzP<Nv5j˂cfצ}kc!W62`tv;gB!G@G*ɐYPÂ(A'9.Mf;)Y&.r4ѩ.2 b0< jȹI<&o.\[JN>J(RnCTnR|?00.^jR!P5-2l3Xib/Af: |TR:UsPk>(Ky`7ʊ}}k5;irǩE+X fW3H] &[mqsHgWd! VǖO##&k#  5$$6XP寉fK MX[XHfOWؿtYm'Glv[ HnlG=UlGD 6+p{:98݈hRO@q˻uߐ8knr>򏩪Mfp ⬒)皂kN1VU ӃYz~bGր2uKk#+\;V!X~5/ LF4NQ"j}^X/Zi r;^b 18"u{B<`Vv =)ujY0r W 3֘"9rj8Qu}@p&WqfXIٝd`t,l/=}bo^= w1_jնP9VFe.w ۏ\2+Yt@3\zRnõY{2!\ppchoWnC2Wruy8c 9Kq^nsj!Jxnzd؅)2Z i|9r;ӍX)<{{$7 eI&!fbֱStgzm$r2CuÎzEqǹ]}vbX>伬3jAnԌ)'p 1sOQ1J1No7Stb/ZjE\^@"X< ^:Z4O5%0^JSqS-@➢8=(jT0YkF8V rTbđo?՝Eh=,΢t mZBsK@B($KFe466@&Њ;+NT5lST&r6qT=x?59楾KJm*. );Zڽ/Xw6ᛆ_cWrlQ囜P4A%">C wBrPwpv5^KT櫼 LL%sݱ&Lr:hMf#PKxJm`~lYzv $̐m\kByYjԴʬWQ{+95-,AOJֱ[xOR44:\<[ۥPW7{q޵YiebI.O4⬅'s5Oo 8}Ð8U6DU\D W@TMvcC^;"q#%C+675kv$gih2yWt^l{ԥwa# ;rsL H4$r4tݎhx̨ mv 1̸ ZK:s29° *Q:$Od=N >_3  s:¬pYN3v7!BGܜqE#AmU@ ~l֢ҚBcm9$ ђ!@I30*m*K zbŽIj}?VINAgF-)I#R4S:ݢd(2\jnfB5TAS F!.s frx`wfT!P㨢I3jy4TQ"S$vNE\ESOj.Fq'I:TT@ӷHd~n*KjIҘ4k3J陊GzLڮ$)tbzliy=iHSdPz $VɩmN6)2ZItGb n TCе6ʗ&ںpQH `ksڟ٥?!ɲ{#'T,yaI,B6nRI!YՇ,֨}+ryb`; x0ͰZouo\f7QlI%|orjhA-U);5g#Z >!W1nu̯aI>jZMirڂ+1bq,`sY&l˼kF1ԞYj=ZR? 15;fWb:x^cv*$B#Trh A*B$G?$F<+HvVw 4N x?{@z H$+22"EfLC `ޯjxK_0/\ UkK-PwAl:% ;PUVFS#hK1Iv̼בN_Cm8x +r>+XGVE~"j" SfqlE걒N xyu@=> ͞;QWTկ5IC; r=.-.mf".1z׳i߆"Sr ?A|BP<-b}?*h7-YDE\p 9Ti )ғ\c~!v/(ZNU4yL}"dFNj6ڦ41FX 'aҳeaC6^E+Z"3ǭXX°N;-m=AXq֞#s`V r9cjGLkdZ1#\E[40Zn>P@4I(4q@\,E$aT{A4.UY!W|MY89[c0$F9UrMf"Vc1'qT5 ZjKPO11w8. fh^B-v*oE UPkʼi3p"8^@uk3]ΒM2l|ׯi:y&!N1} vk|m[U&1t4i9hSam|y++QV2Dkdc,2X(Vz4 [%ys"}Ӏ+މr9I@6;r%vCUzP jfWl`PF#jIF47zdOz!%ZONHiU ֫J9eFuZ.:hFeaOcN8ǔ*9j.b!iLgޚNҡUqXw] jnbMZ.+N6A#|M(1@TwG43jc+(53FҭsUAY EJn0 qj ̆!hF4LHDxYGh F-9~A;Ȟfڒ0d3Zr v6Z eG.ѽzqIcNpiI5RK&Lņ3R 5-d:Z$2SZ|z;jd~AXwM2Yn{t@9ۭ."5}%5PDMN*YL } xqJ a\΋$r0) iȤsW#v:^K88N26fD 7sjgr74K+^sTjcB#:T =Aq7o~zV WTJۻVw4xKq\"x(U)7Te >Lo4ołgTSX\Px @u171^GOz5&[M.{8UBG8Pp@\Ǐ.c3[1Xߙ5ʏ$w#1sV_=jZXcPu+ NGġWeM*pj[Jqǽ0~"py֦j9\zMS%"Z6C^nQUReWݩkcaL}+7C}4r8YFS+7)rr}qXvEh; ilHxzYhfdpU^h + A`=kHɵұ/h5~ )$Ziq$LڴZ(H{T>%4+ڮ _0mG aV`0>S5 U'ڴvt]1ۂm1P3ijUtb|}fKW~z=?BD,dqܹX^H$7.C9t>jK&pY?!^}n $+ǥj[xR p:p(UO$-$ n85 44yD)*]>w 4 tI#02MuH@,ɮ8Pj+PH Ԓ5Vv$wZ)1& $6@ WxzU0p{/1@ЌU'59#&#s:ed+sd+Y0 Sqab~i8*ۓ' r84N8DS*v]̂3@jfa0iA!lU;Q,coW]Iۊjz5r )1JԀUhXVs -"l8c>~~jKN} 9f,rj9!>5HwӸ_Q5 [nfFY Gua|m^g5ZPH&[s+O=>1,@#R`k.E !usWYʒJL3Jz\*RHsJXYQ8BiMGRd4 ($yENT'i'*>by$"$ڣ#w,:=ƖJ[iy _0wvĈeQ!n;q֮ihbXƴN[v.q\ZYW9$M'rFՊztf{"p?Z+85 Fk˴.S唲 Wkvw=Jw*]R=8P83VBeqk3R{U=J(@JTáNj;x'ts>+Qg+VmYIAHa׎ֻE3*uȤj ǻ`Tvr{UV^ZM;@ S$툐OaULĶUA_SړmFMc/z5澹y9v5w}%ąbƠP1Par.sUd\Ž[~ ρ+oN-k CyQew*3ڥZb;X [LIp"s}(bB*j 1O&ڕN)pV"+F1LFDx_Jg_G&`6dۙdSмdYm\6J&{k=VRGJs0gtYPc\ܒM\Ӌ NɊ|z@q\$:ͦCVsOJvN)0q14\i`nmo9˯ܴl?ެ@Ըi29=TEr°aV-1 k=X CCLyAL}j&2@/R3pQ}ʩ53I"[d䞧4 Xvc ,8vNcMN[p;؂Uaܬ954o4IQ'j(ށC q]pzZv+B-CfV/i44·-u1sH4wυ 7dXFQ[ڢ1{ih)j^ ʡ]W2-YKgbRY;f-0RnI>arZvQ AZg}v5,vpۗ'!'˻~]2ãJJZ[B@s#cבҬf}1ܰ^V$$g~kz5̏6xC:}7PJZZ++dڊ1S9D1TdsWSs@zhaO4+`z q5jGh i3F^Uflֵ>=.1@jTuþE@gΞ!<j }V"c*xBPW!P˚`ʠ>!$ " hQHЯN9*9 .4EBUvˌUI kdba0RW>V+}VƼ-زOzdՑzҤ2zl9dO:ե0̌+mtXu{QH!mk] rz lH s M+FޙMkA9MuesWךNrqTj$˩eZ1{m7qEzeNjFrAO^k?o Kg2FPH'<`T#zd걑:VqTvJ"ރB:)ݕTS4.>fڪjq,}(\2ŷڳ'Ze̅Ö|z*QrTeQDy#@2"AF~Q0?(@^ڬF nx=t?8(RPZ hJT-\ sQKh$ԛN4 @r&]i4D[y.[lĥ@Àp9nME juR["*q֞*Ŭ{'X tbqɩ-an†\{$TRD QPzP3fUjԮ#+$[ r׹$6%`{:OJrX~aՈ͐(8$#zUB&[[O.ۓN TBбSϭN+ɠ ``ZVo ۹3lMJ.N*M1VmoeDx 5oj.A2ccU7qSZZƹeJRp943:+)ajLqXh6'n3ՙdgUnV/JnjW%]t dx`Y,QkTzBd3.T69^`i8< bj6uR#Pk91k=sqTUCd5 >_צ+6a銬mp9ڌèaHPyfQWSçwsYE*#Xv0(2!#SҵJjKk>A&1ǧ:|~]J 8^iv Y\ 8>ץWiHȬwtǘXN}sҊ)~'dC#9m%,.:cR^M1&`YEHKRܘGA%88BJcIQE \6I1C܎E!VQI4)aE [UEHOJ(ml-Fڊ*g-Ƽfu. E2r1R`\2iQH}=QS'b>%@QJڏȭwHMSLOTbP3bK{O {y Warning: fopen(https://newsweekme.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/2016-10-29T154336Z_1963509497_S1BEUJUBIEAA_RTRMADP_3_MIDEAST-CRISIS-IRAQ-MOSUL-780x439.jpg): failed to open stream: HTTP wrapper does not support writeable connections in /home/newsweekme/public_html/wp-includes/class-wp-image-editor.php on line 428

Members of Iraqi special forces police unit fire their weapons at Daesh fighters in al-Shura, south of Mosul, Iraq REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

By Stephen Kalin and Ahmed Rasheed

AL-SHURA, Iraq/BAGHDAD Oct 30 – Iraqi Shi’ite militias launched an offensive towards the west of Mosul on Saturday, an operation that will tighten the noose around Daesh’s Iraq stronghold but has alarmed Turkey and could inflame tensions in the mainly Sunni area.

The battle for Mosul is expected to be the biggest in the 13 years of turmoil unleashed in Iraq by the 2003 U.S.-led invasion which toppled former president Saddam Hussein, a Sunni Muslim, and brought Iraq’s majority Shi’ite Muslims to power.

A spokesman for the Shi’ite militias, known as the Hashid Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) forces, said thousands of fighters “started operations this morning to clean up the hotbeds of Daesh  in the western parts of Mosul“.

The city is by far the largest held by the ultra-hardline Sunni Daesh and its loss would mark their effective defeat in Iraq, two years after their leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a cross-border caliphate in parts of Iraq and neighbouring Syria from the pulpit of a Mosul mosque.

The Shi’ite militias aim to capture villages west of Mosul and reach the town of Tal Afar, about 55 km (35 miles) from the city, the Hashid spokesman said. Their goal is to cut off any option of retreat by Daesh insurgents into neighbouring Syria or any reinforcement for their defence of Mosul.

But their deployment close to the border with neighbouring Turkey prompted a warning from President Tayyip Erdogan, who said Ankara aims to reinforce its troops on the frontier and threatened a “different response” for the militias if they “unleash terror” in Tal Afar.

Turkish troops have been training Sunni tribal combatants at an Iraqi camp northeast of Mosul, but a spokesman for the Shi’ite militias said earlier on Saturday the Turks were in no position to obstruct their advance.

The Iran-backed and battle-hardened paramilitaries bring additional firepower to the nearly two-week-old campaign to recapture Iraq’s second largest city from the jihadist group.

Iraqi soldiers and security forces and Kurdish peshmerga fighters, backed by a U.S.-led air coalition and thousands of Western military personnel, have been advancing in the last 13 days on the southern, eastern and northeastern fronts around Mosul, which remains home to 1.5 million people.

POTENTIAL EXODUS

The United Nations has warned of a possible humanitarian crisis and a potential refugee exodus from Mosul.

Villagers from outlying areas around Mosul have told Reuters that women and children were being forced to walk as human shields alongside retreating Daesh fighters as they withdrew into the city this week.

Iraqi and Western military sources say there had been debate about whether or not to seal offMosul‘s western flank. Leaving it open would have offered Daesh a chance to retreat, potentially sparing residents from a devastating, inner-city fight to the finish.

Some civilians fleeing Mosul have used the roads to the west to escape to Qamishli, in Kurdish-controlled northern Syria. Others, from villages just outside Mosul, have exploited the chaos to flee in the other direction.

“Some people fled the other day so we took a chance. Daesh fired two bullets at us but they missed and we made it,” said Ahmed Raad, 20, from the village of Abu Jarbuaa northeast ofMosul, who had found refuge at a peshmerga base.

The International Organisation for Migration said on Saturday 17,520 people have been displaced so far during the Mosul operation – excluding thousands of people forced back into the city by Daesh.

Nearly two weeks into the Mosul campaign, troops advancing along the Tigris river valley south of Mosul are still much further from the city than Kurdish peshmerga fighters and an elite army unit advancing from the east.

Thirty km (20 miles) south of Mosul, Iraqi rapid response forces entered the Sunni town of al-Shura on Saturday, once a significant base for Daesh where the jihadists enjoyed strong support.

An intelligence officer said that most of the Daesh insurgents appeared to have pulled back north towards Mosul, leaving just a small number to try to slow the advancing security forces.

AIR STRIKES

Captain Abbas Shakir, speaking at the western edge of the town, said Daesh fighters had built up defences in the east and the south. “The enemy was surprised by our entrance from the west … They dropped their weapons and fled,” he said.

Shakir told Reuters that security forces had taken the centre of al-Shura and raised the Iraqi flag, killing 50 to 60 Daesh insurgents. The remaining jihadists were firing from the eastern edge of the town, and security forces responded with artillery fire and air strikes.

An Iraqi military statement later said al-Shura was under full control of the security forces. It also said the Shi’ite militias had captured a dozen small villages west of al-Shura, around 60 km (40 miles) southeast of their target, Tal Afar.

Saturday’s announcement by the Shi’ite militias added another force to the coalition of fighters seeking to crush Daesh in Iraq, but will also raise concerns about the role the Popular Mobilisation fighters will play.

Targeting the Daesh-held town of Tal Afar, close to Turkey and home to a sizeable ethnic Turkmen population with historic and cultural ties to Turkey, will alarm Ankara.

But many of the Tal Afar Turkmens are also Shi’ites, and its location on the road west to Syria gives it strategic importance to the Iranian-backed militias who have supported President Bashar al-Assad in Syria’s five-year civil war.

Erdogan, speaking to reporters in Ankara, said Turkey considered Tal Afar to be an entirely Turkmen town, half Sunni and half Shi’ite. “If Hashid Shaabi would unleash terror (there), our response would definitely be different.”

Hashid spokesman Ahmed al-Assadi said the Popular Mobilisation forces, who have already fought in support of Assad in Syria, would cross the border into Syria to support him again once they had “cleared” Islamic State from their own country.

The Popular Mobilisation force, formed in 2014 to help push back Daesh’s sweeping advance, officially report to Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s Shi’ite-led government, but has very close links to Iran.

Human rights groups have warned of possible sectarian violence if the Shi’ite paramilitaries seize areas where Sunni Muslims form a majority, which is the case in much of northern and western Iraq.

Amnesty International says that in previous campaigns, they committed “serious human rights violations, including war crimes” against civilians fleeing Daesh-held territory.

The government and the Popular Mobilisation forces say a limited number of violations occurred and were investigated, but they deny abuses were widespread and systematic.

Social Streams

Comments

comments

Facebook Comments

Post a comment