Save the children warns of children's safety during Mosul operations

Miranda GreerFeb 23, 2017

The offensive to retake Mosul, the second city and the Islamic State group's last bastion in the country, is Iraq's largest military operation in years. That is setting the conditions for Iraqi forces to retake the Mosul airport and begin moving toward more dense urban terrain, the colonel said.

So far, Iraqi forces have taken almost 50,000 square miles of territory in the offensive that is being spearheaded south of west Mosul, Iraq's Federal Police said.

The west bank of Mosul is a little smaller than the east but even more densely-populated and home to some of the jihadists' traditional strongholds.

The federal police and elite Interior Ministry units known as Rapid Response have made quick progress towards western Mosul in a sweep from the south through hilly desert terrain since fighting resumed on Sunday.

Mattis told reporters before arriving in Baghdad the USA military was not in Iraq to seize the country's oil, distancing himself from remarks by President Donald Trump.

With aerial support from the US-led coalition, Iraqi police and army troops launched the offensive on Sunday, part of a 100-day-old campaign that has already driven the fighters from the eastern half of the city.

An alliance of Arab and Kurdish forces also backed by the coalition is currently advancing on Raqa in Syria, the only other major hub the jihadists still hold in their now crumbling "caliphate". US special operations forces are embedded with some Iraqi units, and thousands of American soldiers are in Iraq to provide logistical and other support.

Dorrian declined to say if any USA troops had been wounded in the attacks. "Mosul would be a tough fight for any army in the world", said Lt Gen Stephen Townsend, the commander of the coalition, in a statement. The U.N. estimates 750,000 civilians may be left in western Mosul.

Their effectiveness, and the quantity of drones available to them, has certainly decreased, Sylvia said, as the drones have been "shot out of the sky" or as these areas have been taken over.

Without getting into specifics, Sylvia said United States troops have been able to "bring to bear some of our technical capabilities" to help the Iraqis shoot down almost a dozen drones.

"This is the grim choice for children in western Mosul right now: bombs, crossfire and hunger if they stay - or execution and snipers if they try to run", Save the Children said, adding children make up about half the population trapped in the city.

"The martyrdom-seeking brother Abu Zakariya al-Britani - may Allah accept him - detonated his explosives-laden vehicle on a headquarters of the Rafidhi army and its militias in Tal Kisum village, southwest of Mosul", the claim quoted by SITE said.

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