Iraqi troops battle ISIL in Mosul, UN says dozens executed
REUTERS photoElite Iraqi troops battled the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the streets of Mosul on Nov. 11, as the U.N. reported ISIL jihadists had executed dozens of people inside the city for alleged “treason.”
With ISIL also on the defensive in neighboring Syria, U.S.-backed forces pressed an advance on jihadist bastion Raqqa after a sandstorm eased.
The high winds in the desert which separates the Syrian Kurdish-Arab militia alliance from the jihadists’ stronghold in the Euphrates Valley had slowed their advance on Nov. 10 as visibility levels plummeted.
Iraqi forces too had regrouped after meeting stronger than expected resistance from ISIL fighters on the east bank of the Tigris River which runs through Mosul after thrusting into the built-up area last week.
Commanders of Iraq’s elite Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) said that troops were advancing on two eastern neighborhoods of the city.
In a house near the front line, Staff Lieutenant Colonel Muntadhar Salem clutched a radio in one hand and a tablet in the other with a map showing several rows of buildings recaptured by CTS.
As the troops waited for orders to push forward, incoming mortar rounds shook the pink curtains on the windows of the house.
Inside Mosul itself, ISIL fighters reportedly shot dead more than 60 people this week and hung some of their bodies from poles after claiming they had collaborated with Iraqi troops, the U.N. human rights office said Nov. 11.
“On Tuesday [Nov. 8], ISIL reportedly shot and killed 40 civilians in Mosul city after accusing them of ‘treason and collaboration’” with the ISF, rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said in a statement released in Geneva.
And on Nov. 9, ISIL slaughtered another 20 people at the Ghabat Military Base in northern Mosul after accusing them of “leaking information,” the U.N. statement said.
The battle to retake Mosul is now in its fourth week, and while troops have entered the built-up area, there are weeks, if not months, of fighting still to go.
“Our forces have begun the attack on Arbajiyah. The clashes are ongoing,” Salem said, referring to an area in the east of the city.
The latest fighting came “after a few days of quiet,” he said.