Iraq forces announce gains in west Mosul

However, that total, which only includes civilian deaths through April, was still far short of what non-governmental organisations and monitors have estimated.

The figure falls dramatically below the death toll reported by Airwaves, a London-based monitoring group that has been tallying the death toll of coalition strikes by compiling official and local reports.

Iraqi forces are closing in on the final terrorist-held areas in western Mosul, while partnered forces in Syria are just a few kilometers from the key city of Raqqa, the spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve said today.

A statement issued by the Al-Hashd al-Shaaib, the Arab name for the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU), backed by Iranian military aides, said that ISIS leader in that region Hassan Kanahs al-Zebeidi was identified amid the terrorists killed in the community of Matallat al-Markeb, near Syria.

The PMU said that the Wadi al-Midar and Taru villages [in northwestern Iraq] were liberated from ISIS, adding that 21 ISIS fighters were killed in the operation backed by the Iraqi air force. "The coalition takes all allegations of civilian casualties serious and will assess the allegations".

The battle to recapture the last stronghold of ISIL, or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant group, in Iraq has now entered its eighth month.

Over the past several days, the USA military has been increasing its combat power at a remote training facility near the Tanf border crossing in Syria in preparation for any aggression by pro-regime and Iranian-backed militias, which have been massing forces in the area, according to Col. Ryan Dillon, a spokesperson for Operation Inherent Resolve.

- Near Hwayjah, a strike destroyed a vehicle and a mortar cache.

Its target for now is Raqqa, which has been held by the militants since 2014. Dillon said IS fighters were shooting some civilians as they fled, and that other citizens had died after accidentally stepping on explosive devices while trying to leave the area.

Separately, Doctors Without Borders MSF in France said on Thursday that about 800 people are arriving every day in Ain Issa, located within 3 km of Raqqa.

"Aid workers and rights groups have been repeating their concerns that in the process to push ISIL out, Iraqi forces must make sure that civilians are not caught in the crossfire".

The U.S. -led coalition backs the SDF with air strikes and military advisors on the ground.

Several fighters with the Kurdish YPG told Defense News' sister publication Military Times that they were underwhelmed by the levels of funding and equipment for vetted Syrian fighters that the Pentagon's plan contained.

  • Leroy Wright