Top US commander downplays possibility of big troop hike in Iraq, Syria

The top American commander in Iraq said earlier this month he believed USA -backed forces would recapture Islamic State's two major strongholds - Raqqa in Syria and Mosul in Iraq - within the next six months.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, announced the start of an offensive on February 19 to drive extremist militants out of the western side of Mosul, locally known as the right bank of Tigris River, which bisects the city.

They reached the Iraqi forces' lines after an exhausting march through the desert, as government forces and their allies continue their military campaign in several neighbourhoods to purge Iraq's second biggest city of Daesh militants.

The militants set ablaze homes, shops and cars to hide their movement and positions from air surveillance.

"Women had to cover up, you couldn't walk in the street without a guardian".

Mosul residents said they had not been able to travel on the highway that begins at the Syria Gate since yesterday.

Iraqi troops today sealed off the last major road out of Mosul trapping thousands of Islamic State fighters inside the besieged stronghold.

Iraqi commanders told Rudaw it is evidence of ISIS using the base to train foreign fighters, children and teens to fight and commit suicide bombings.

About 270 civilians arrived early on Tuesday at the sector held by the CTS. A further 85,000 people can be housed within prepared emergency camps and shelters, while some 400,000 civilians can flee the battle zone as the offensive continues, according to United Nations estimates, while roughly 750,000 people remain trapped in war-torn western Mosul.

The Islamic State (ISIS) has gone to the dogs-figuratively and even literally.

An officer called out the name Mushtaq and one man stood up.

Through telephone interviews, many distressed families said that food was unaffordable, while others said they could not access food at all.

Even though western Mosul is smaller than the eastern half, it may be more hard to gain control of because of its narrower streets and densely populated neighborhoods, according to Los Angeles Times. USA personnel are operating close to the frontlines to direct air strikes.

Separately, Major General Najim al-Jabouri, the head of the Operations Command in Nineveh Province, of which Mosul is the capital, also pointed out that Iraqi forces had taken over the Wadi Hajar district in southwestern Mosul following fierce clashes with Daesh militants holed up there.

  • Leroy Wright