Iraqi troops expand foothold in Mosul as ISIL pledges more suicide attacks
AFP photoU.S.-backed Iraqi troops expanded their foothold on the eastern side of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s (ISIL) Iraqi stronghold of Mosul on Nov. 18, as the group pledged to mount more suicide attacks on their offensive to take the city.
The elite Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) stormed the Tahrir district on the northeastern edge of Mosul, the last major city under control of the Sunni hardline group in Iraq.
A Reuters correspondent reporting from the CTS-held line in Tahrir saw civilians streaming out of the nearby Aden district where fighting blazed, pushing trolleys containing their belongings and carrying home-made white flags.
“The advance is slow due to the civilians,” said CTS Lt. General Abdul Wahab al-Saidi, adding that the U.S.-trained unit aims to clear the rest of the neighborhood during the day.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi’s office said on Nov. 17 that an agreement on the withdrawal of Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces from liberated areas of Mosul remained “steady and unchanged.”
The Iraqi federal government statement came in reply to the Nov. 16 remarks by Iraqi Kurdish Regional Government (KRG) president, Masoud Barzani, in which he said Peshmerga forces would not withdraw from territories taken from ISIL in Nineveh province.
“Keeping these territories comes under an agreement reached with both the Iraqi government and the United States,” the Iraqi government statement said.
Also on Nov. 17, a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-laden vehicle at a wedding gathering in a town west of the Iraqi capital, killing at least 16 people, officials said, according to AFP.
The attack, which took place in Amriyat al-Fallujah, a town in Anbar province 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the capital, also left more than 30 people wounded.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, but ISIL frequently carries out suicide bombings targeting civilians in Iraq.