The United States is committed to helping our Iraqi partners defeat ISIL in an effective and sustainable way, particularly as Iraq works to stabilize and restore cities and critical infrastructure liberated from the terrorist group’s control. In addition to the fight for Mosul itself, we’ve been pleased to answer Iraq’s request for international help to prevent the failure of the Mosul Dam. U.S. and Iraqi scientists estimate that a breach of the Mosul Dam, one of the largest pieces of water infrastructure in the Middle East, could have a devastating impact for over a million Iraqis along the Tigris River, from Mosul itself all the way down to Baghdad. Its failure could also be a threat to U.S. personnel and our Coalition members working alongside Iraqis and drastically reshape the nature of the fight against ISIL in northern Iraq. Today, thanks to close U.S.-Iraqi partnership, however, Mosul Dam is on a path toward greater stability.
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Elite Iraqi forces have ousted Islamic State insurgents from all districts of eastern Mosul they were tasked with recapturing, their commanding officer said on Wednesday, bringing almost all of the city's eastern half back under government control.
Lieutenant-General Talib Shaghati said the Counter Terrorism Services (CTS), who have spearheaded the three-month-old offensive against Islamic State (IS) in the northern Iraqi city, had taken the eastern bank of the Tigris river.
Regular army troops were still fighting the ultra-hardline militants in northeast Mosul, however, according to a military statement. A few parts of the bank further north had yet to be fully taken.
The morning of 20 January 1992 began much like any other for the Mohammed family in the marshlands of southern Iraq. Rising at first light, they roused their herd of buffaloes and drove the beasts snorting and protesting into the surrounding wetlands to graze. After a quick breakfast of bread and yoghurt, washed down with sugary tea, they readied themselves for a long day out on the water.
But on that day, one of the coldest on record, five-year-old Hanaa and her mother caught no fish and gathered no reeds. No sooner had they paddled past the last of their neighbours’ floating reed houses than a squadron of government fighter jets emerged from the mist, guns blazing. They reduced the artificial islets to embers, and killed many of the buffaloes. Not content with shooting up a few villages as punishment for locals’ alleged harbouring of defeated Shia rebels, Saddam Hussein soon dispatched his engineers to divert the Tigris and Euphrates rivers away from the marshes. The effects were disastrous. By the turn of the last century, the Middle East’s largest wetlands had withered from a peak of 20,000 sq km to almost nothing.
However, in March this year, almost 25 years since she and her siblings were pushed off their land and into the slums of a nearby city, Hanaa and some of her former neighbours will be making a triumphant homecoming.
The United Nations says the massive Iraqi military operation to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State group has made more than 148,000 people homeless.
The U.N. said in a statement released on Monday night that nearly 12,500 people were forced to flee their homes just over the past week.
Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday that Iraqi forces had begun "moving" against Islamic State militants in western Mosul, an area the group still fully holds.
He did not give details of exactly what actions Iraqi forces were undertaking on the western side of the city. Abadi was giving a statement to reporters broadcast live on state TV.
Iraq already had shortages of psychiatrists and psychologists before the rise of so-called Islamic State. Now, as hundreds of thousands of civilians emerge from years of IS rule, the impact of those shortfalls is becoming painfully clear.
Many of those needing help are children, like Emir Ibrahim. The 14-year-old was lined up against a wall, gunshots scattered around his head. And this was just the beginning of his punishment.
The teenager, who had been accused of attempting to escape his northern hometown of Hawija, recalled what happened after he was brought before an IS judge. He “had a metal pole and started beating me with it... my back was covered in blood. Then, they put me in prison,” he said.
Commander Kamal Kirkuki swung open the large wooden doors to reveal a conference room. It was a war room, really. There was a long table and plush leather office chairs, maps with pins, a projector. A Chinese-made surveillance drone rested in the corner.
Kirkuki is a slender man, wearing traditional Kurdish clothing. He is unassuming in his mannerisms yet he holds one of the highest positions on this battlefield in northern Iraq. He is a top officer in the Kurdish military, known as the Peshmerga. The Peshmerga is an essential American ally in the ground war against ISIS.
His team is in charge of the city of Dibis and its surrounding villages. Dibis is just 80 miles southeast of Mosul. It is part of Kirkuk province and has been controlled by Kurdish forces since the Iraqi army’s northern divisions retreated in June 2014. This region is the epicenter of the war against the terrorist organization in part because it is the site of some of the largest reserves of oil in Iraqi Kurdistan. ISIS has used the oil it controls here to help finance its operations worldwide.
Iraqi special forces battled Islamic State militants in districts near the Tigris river in Mosul on Monday as they sought to bring more of the east of the city back under government control.
The latest clashes occurred in the neighboring Shurta and Andalus districts. At least three Islamic State suicide car bombs targeted Iraqi forces in Andalus. There was no immediate word on any casualties. In an online post, Islamic State said it had carried out a "martyrdom operation" in the area.
Iraq's elite Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) said the militants, who seized Mosul in 2014 as they swept across much of northern Iraq, only to since lose much of that terrain to government counter-offensives, were fighting back hard.
Iraqi forces battling the Islamic State group in Mosul on Monday retook an area where the jihadists levelled one of the city's most well-known shrines in 2014, officials said.
"We retook control of Nabi Yunus area... raised the Iraqi flag above the tomb," Sabah al-Noman, spokesman for the Counter-Terrorism Service spearheading the Mosul offensive, told AFP.
He said two other neighbourhoods in eastern Mosul were also retaken from IS on Monday.