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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

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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Indians Missing in Mosul: V.K. Singh in Iraq to Co-ordinate Search Opertion

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V.K Singh will co-ordinate search operation for 39 Indian
V.K Singh will co-ordinate search operation for 39 Indians who went Missing in Mosul. IANS

New Delhi, October 27: After the government sought DNA samples from the next of kin of the 39 Indians Missing in Mosul, Iraq three years ago, Minister of State for External Affairs V.K. Singh is again visiting the country to seek an update.

External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Raveeh Kumar said on Friday that Singh’s visit “is to talk to people”.

“He has met a range of people in Iraq. And also to get an update on the 39 missing Indians in Iraq,” Kumar said in his weekly media briefing here.

He said that on Thursday Singh was in Mosul city where the Indians went missing.

Last week, the families of the 39 Indians were asked to provide their DNA samples but no reason was provided, the kin said.

It was in June 2014 that the 39 Indians, mostly from Punjab, went missing in Mosul town when it was overrun by the Islamic State. Their families continue to hope the men are alive but also fear the worst.

Singh had visited Iraq in July too in this connection.(IANS)

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Kerala Police arrest two more ‘Islamic State Recruiters’

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Kerala Police arrest two more 'IS recruiters'
Kerala Police arrest two more 'IS recruiters'. IANS

Kannur, October 26: The Kerala Police here on Thursday arrested two Muslim youths who are alleged to be the local recruiters for the Islamic State militant group.

With this, the total number of Islamic State militants arrests has reached five, with three being arrested on Wednesday by the police in Valapatanam.

All five arrested had returned from Turkey not long ago, a police officer said. They hail from Chakarakal and nearby areas of Kannur.

Their detailed interrogation is underway. (IANS)

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Islamic State War Crimes in Iraq being Investigated: UN Team

The United Nations Security Council has voted unanimously to establish an investigative team to help Iraq secure evidence of atrocities committed by Islamic State militants "that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide

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Displaced people from the minority Yazidi sect, fleeing violence from forces loyal to the Islamic State in Sinjar town, walk toward the Syrian border, on the outskirts of Sinjar mountain, near the Syrian border town of Elierbeh of Al-Hasakah Governorate (voa)

Iraq, September 22, 2017: The United Nations Security Council has voted unanimously to establish an investigative team to help Iraq secure evidence of atrocities committed by Islamic State militants “that may amount to war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.”

Britain, which drafted the resolution, said the team would bring some justice to those who had experienced atrocities at the hands of IS, variously known as ISIS, ISIL and Daesh.

The U.S. Ambassador to the U.N., Nikki Haley, called the resolution “a landmark” that would “provide an indispensable record of the scope and scale” of IS atrocities.

“This means justice for those people who have been victimized by ISIS,” Nadia Murad, a former IS captive in Iraq, said in a Facebook Live video after attending the council vote with well-known international human rights lawyer Amal Clooney.

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Yazidi survivor and U.N. Goodwill Ambassador for the Dignity of Survivors of Human trafficking Nadia Murad, center, visits her village for the first time after being captured and sold as a slave by the Islamic State three years ago, in Kojo, Iraq, (VOA)

Clooney represents women of Iraq’s Yazidi minority who were kidnapped and held as sex slaves by IS militants after the terrorist organization conquered large swaths of Iraq in mid-2014.

“It’s a huge milestone for all of those who’ve been fighting for justice for victims of crimes committed by ISIS,” Clooney said in the Facebook Live video. “It says to victims that their voices will be heard and they may finally get their day in court.”

Since then, U.S.-backed Iraqi forces have driven IS from most of the land it had seized in Iraq, retaking all the major urban areas, although the group still controls some pockets in Iraq as well as territory in Syria.

ALSO READ UN Human Rights Chief Urges Iraqi Government to help Victims of Islamic State (ISIS) Sex Abuse

IS fighters have been on the run in Iraq since U.S.-backed Iraqi forces recaptured Mosul, Iraq’s second city and the Islamic State’s former stronghold capital, in July.

Tens of thousands of Yazidis fled the August 2014 massacre in Sinjar, and U.N. rights investigations have documented horrific accounts of abuse suffered by women and girls, such as Murad. About 3,000 women are believed to remain in IS captivity.

But Human Rights Watch criticized the resolution as a missed opportunity by the council “to address war crimes and rights abuses by all sides to the conflict in Iraq.”

“No one denies the importance of tackling the widespread atrocities by ISIS in Iraq, but ignoring abuses by Iraqi and international forces is not only flawed, it’s shortsighted,” said Balkees Jarrah, senior international justice counsel at Human Rights Watch. “The pursuit of justice is essential to all victims who saw their loved ones tortured and killed, or houses burned and bombed, regardless of who is responsible.” (VOA)