Battle for Mosul: Hundreds of Civilians Flee Into Syria, UN Says


Britain's Defense Secretary Michael Fallon says the British military is launching cyberattacks against the Islamic State group in support of the offensive against militants in the Iraqi city of Mosul. It said there are just 16 latrines shared by more than 9,000 people, many of whom only have access to dirty, untreated water.

"A lot of foreigner fighters we expect to stay, because they're not going to be able to exfiltrate as easily some of the local fighters, or the local leadership, so we expect there to be a fight", he said.

The secretive leader of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is believed to be holed up in the terror group's hub of Mosul, as Iraqi and USA forces close in this week ahead of what could be a climactic fight.

An Iraqi troop dressed in a camouflage outfit walks in the Bajwaniyah village, about 30 km south of Mosul, as the forces advance to liberate the sity from Daesh (the so-called IS) group.

USA officials said the American was in a vehicle north of Mosul when he was hit.

The Apaches, he said, can "see a long range at night" and strike targets from a great distance.

Iraqi pro-government forces have made gains at the start of an operation to take Mosul.

"The retaking of Islamic State's northern Iraq stronghold, Mosul, may lead to the return to Europe of violent ISIS fighters", King told the German newspaper "Die Welt". ISIS has 5,000 to 6,000 fighters defending Mosul, the head of Iraq's special forces, Lt. Gen. Talib Shaghati, said Wednesday.

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A marksman has shot several ISIS jihadists in four regions of Mosul as uprisings against the group continue.

Iraqi special forces have joined the battle for Mosul with a pre-dawn advance on a nearby town held by the so-called "Islamic State" group, a key part of a multi-pronged assault on eastern approaches to the besieged city.

Military operations also appeared to be under way in the town of Bashiqa, north-east of Mosul.

Mosul is the last bastion of IS in Iraq and the battle is expected to last several weeks or even months.

As many as 1.5 million civilians are thought to still be inside the city, with reports from inside suggesting basic supplies are running out.

Separately on Thursday, the U.S. said an American soldier had been killed in a roadside bomb attack in northern Iraq.

He also hailed co-operation between the army and Kurdish troops, saying they were "fighting harmoniously together" to free Iraqi territory from IS. The officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters, did not provide specific figures.

An alliance of Iraqi, Pershmega and other fighters have been moving toward the contested city since Monday as part of a major effort to rid it from two years of militant control. IS has sent trucks loaded with explosives careening toward the front lines and fired mortars to slow the Iraqi forces' advance.