IS using "tens of thousands" as human shields in Mosul


Many fear Isis will resort to more brutal tactics as the forces converge on the city, which is still home to more than a million people.

The militiamen, who had been confined within Turkey's main Iraqi base in Bashiqa, are carrying out "reinforcement operations" near Mosul Dam north of the city, a USA official told The Washington Times.

"Just in the operations over the last week and a half associated with Mosul, we estimate they've probably killed about 800-900 Islamic State fighters", General Joseph Votel, who heads the USA military's Central Command, said in an interview with AFP, speaking from an undisclosed military base.

"The operation has not been stopped and is proceeding as planned", he said. While officials are treating this as a brief pause, it effectively means that the Islamic State (IS) has temporarily broken the southern advance into Mosul, and that only the northern advance of the Kurdish peshmerga are still approaching the city.

Roughly 5,000 US troops are also in Iraq. "Commanders have told troops in areas affected by smoke to limit outdoor activity, according to a release from the coalition".

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"We also continue to receive information that reinforces the belief that ISIL are deliberately using civilians as human shields - forcing them to move to sites where ISIL fighters are based, or preventing them from leaving other places for strategic reasons", he added.

A senior USA defense official could not confirm whether the two proposals were part of Mr. Carter's discussions with Turkish and Iraqi military officials.

There are reports that about 50,000 Iraqi ground troops are involved in the Mosul offensive, including 30,000 army troops, 10,000 Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and the remaining 10,000 from police and Popular Mobilization Units.

Gaining control of Mosul would signal the end of Isis (Daesh) in Iraq, at least in terms of holding significant territory, and the fight would then be taken to the group in neighbouring Syria. 5 to 6 thousand IS fighters are thought to be defending the area.

Lieutenant- General Stephen Townsend, commander of the United States forces in Iraq, told reporters that coalition forces had delivered more than 2,100 aerial bombs, artillery and mortar shells, rockets and missiles since the offensive began. Many worry that the presence of Shiite fighters will fuel sectarian violence in the area in which Sunnis predominate. Turkey has threatened to "take measures" should the PMF attack Tal Afar a Turkmen part of Mosul. But the official noted that Mr. Carter discussed the possibility of allowing Turkish fighters to conduct airstrikes in Iraq as part of the Mosul campaign.