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Iraqi Government Forces trade Artillery Fire with Islamic State Militants as they attempted to advance into Mosul

Iraqi forces also gained a foothold in the Gogjali district of Mosul, overcoming heavy fortifications by IS militants

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Men are held by Iraqi national security agents, to be interrogated at a checkpoint, as oil fields burn in Qayara, south of Mosul, Iraq, Nov. 5, 2016. Islamic State fighters are launching counterattacks in the thin strip of territory Iraqi special forces have recaptured in eastern Mosul. VOA
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Cairo, November 6, 2016: Iraqi government forces traded artillery fire Saturday with Islamic State militants as they attempted to advance into areas of eastern Mosul. Government media reported the troops had entered at least five eastern districts of the city within the past 48 hours and that bitter fighting was continuing.

Iraqi commander General Sami Aridi told state media his forces were continuing to advance. He said his forces had moved into the Mosul districts of Zahra, Karama and Tahrir and were trying to push farther into adjacent areas, but that the battle was still going on.

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Commander Qassim Jassam of the Iraqi military’s 9th Division said the Islamic State militants were mounting bitter resistance. He contended that IS fighters were being defeated in the Intisar district but had slowed the government advance with at least six car bombs, several suicide bombs and a variety of booby-trapped objects. He said the group was committing atrocious war crimes.

Iraqi forces also gained a foothold in the Gogjali district of Mosul, overcoming heavy fortifications by IS militants in control of the area for the past two years.

The Texas-based private security firm Stratfor released a series of satellite images taken earlier this week that showed IS defenses inside Mosul. A variety of obstacles, including cement barriers, trenches and other rubble, could be seen blocking routes into the city center.

People displaced by fighting between the Iraqi military and Islamic State militants pass through an alley in Gogjali, on the eastern outskirts of Mosul, Iraq, Nov. 5, 2016. Mosul is the last major IS stronghold in Iraq. VOA
People displaced by fighting between the Iraqi military and Islamic State militants pass through an alley in Gogjali, on the eastern outskirts of Mosul, Iraq, Nov. 5, 2016. Mosul is the last major IS stronghold in Iraq. VOA

On the western side of the Tigris River, which divides the city, satellite images revealed that IS had created a no-man’s land near a strategic former military base and outside the city’s main airport. Buildings that might have been used for cover by advancing Iraqi forces had been destroyed.

Government forces trying to reach Mosul from the south of the city reportedly captured the village of Hamam al-Alil, six kilometers outside the city, according to Iraqi state TV. Kurdish forces confirmed that Iraqi flags were now flying from buildings there, near Mosul’s airport.

Also, Shi’ite volunteer militiamen, known as “al-Hushd,” were reported to have captured four villages west of Mosul, near the town of Tel Afar.

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Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi visited the Iraqi army’s front lines near Bartella on Saturday, carrying what he described as a message to civilians in Mosul who have been “hostages in the hands of Daesh [IS].”.

“We will liberate you soon,” Abadi vowed, but he said the push to retake all of Mosul could come in spurts, since Iraqi forces were facing stiff resistance from IS, including roadside bombs, sniper fire and suicide car bombings.

“Our heroic forces will not retreat and will not be broken,” Abadi said.

An Iraqi special forces sniper searches for a target on the outskirts of Mosul, Iraq, Nov. 4, 2016. Heavy fighting erupted in the eastern neighborhoods of Mosul on Friday as Iraqi special forces launched an assault deeper into the urban areas of the city. VOA
An Iraqi special forces sniper searches for a target on the outskirts of Mosul, Iraq, Nov. 4, 2016. Heavy fighting erupted in the eastern neighborhoods of Mosul on Friday as Iraqi special forces launched an assault deeper into the urban areas of the city. VOA

Kurdish news reports said Abadi later flew by helicopter to Irbil, the regional capital of Kurdish Iraq, where he conferred with Kurdish President Masoud Barzani and other top Kurdish officials.

In a televised statement from Irbil, Abadi said: “Our forces [at Mosul] are advancing on all fronts and there is no retreat. There is no delay in military operations, which are going as planned.”

He also said the number of civilians who had been displaced from their homes in or near Mosul had been lower than anticipated, but did not give precise estimates of how many Mosul residents had escaped from the area.

Amid the fighting, U.N. officials told Arab media they needed at least $60 million to fund refugee camps that have been set up outside Mosul. The Iraqi government said 29,000 refugees have left areas surrounding the city since military operations began October 17.

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One man who fled Mosul with his family complained to Arab media that conditions for refugees were bad and getting worse. He said there weren’t enough tents for everyone and that food and sanitation situations were extremely difficult.

Abdel Sitar Shehab, who heads an Iraqi NGO in Tikrit, told Iraq’s Asharqiya TV as many as 25 people were sleeping in each tent and that “some refugees are going hungry.” Arab media reported a new refugee camp called Hassan al Sham had been set up outside the Kurdish regional capital of Irbil for about 3,000 people. (VOA)

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

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Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

You may like to read more on Indian cuisine: Indian ‘masala’, among other condiments spicing up global food palate.

Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)