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Old 03-02-2017, 07:03 AM
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Post ISIS Launches Counter-Attack against Advancing Iraqi Troops in Mosul

ISIS Launches Counter-Attack against Advancing Iraqi Troops in Mosul

ISIS militants launched an attack to counter advancing US-backed Iraqi forces in western Mosul during an overnight storm, as the battle intensified for control of the militants’ last major urban stronghold in Iraq.

Explosions and gun fire rang out across the city’s southwestern districts in the early hours of Thursday.

A senior Iraqi officer said ISIS staged its attack on units from the elite Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) when the storm hampered air surveillance and on-the-ground visibility. He said some ISIS militants hid amongst displaced families to get close to the US-trained troops.

Iraqi forces captured the eastern side of Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting and launched their attack on the districts that lie west of the Tigris River on Feb. 19.

Defeating ISIS in Mosul would crush the Iraqi wing of the alleged “caliphate” declared by the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in 2014, from Mosul’s grand old Nuri mosque.

Residents reported that civilians were killed in an air strike on an ISIS-run mosque on Wednesday, highlighting the perilous situation facing hundreds of thousands of Mosul residents as the allied forces step up their campaign.

The Iraqi military believes several thousand militants, including many who traveled from Western countries, are hunkered down in Mosul among the remaining civilian population, which aid agencies estimated to number 750,000 at the start of the latest offensive.

The militants are using suicide car bombers, snipers and booby traps to counter the offensive waged by the 100,000-strong force of Iraqi troops, Kurdish Peshmerga and Iranian-trained Shi’ite Muslim paramilitary groups.

More than 28,000 civilians have been forced from their homes in western Mosul since the Feb. 19 offensive began, while the total number displaced since the battle for Mosul started in October exceeds 176,000, according to the United Nations.

On Thursday, more than a thousand more streamed out southern Mosul, the majority on foot. Some said the militants fired at them as they crossed a defensive trench.

Meanwhile, Kurdish forces have seized an oil facility in Kirkuk to send a message to the Iraqi government to build a refinery, Kurdish official Aso Mamand told Reuters on Thursday.

Oil flows from the facility have resumed after being temporarily disrupted, an official at Iraq’s North Oil Company said.

However, Mamand said Kurdish forces would stop flows again unless their demands were met within a week.

O Almighty Lord God, who neither slumberest nor sleepest; Protect and assist, we beseech thee, all those who at home or abroad, by land, by sea, or in the air, are serving this country, that they, being armed with thy defence, may be preserved evermore in all perils; and being filled with wisdom and girded with strength, may do their duty to thy honour and glory; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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