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Iraqi Troops Storm Town Southeast of Mosul

Iraqi military units were trying to reinforce their presence in eastern Mosul on Saturday
The long-awaited assault on Hammam al-Alil will add to the pressure on IS fighters.The long-awaited assault on Hammam al-Alil will add to the pressure on IS fighters.

Iraq’s federal police forces and army troops attacked the town of Hammam al-Alil, south of Mosul, held by the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group on Saturday, as Iraqi-led coalition forces seek to drive back the militants from their last major Iraqi stronghold.

The Iraqi Air Force provided air cover for the assault on Saturday morning, according to a statement from Iraq’s Joint Military Command.

Iraqi troops are advancing from three fronts toward the Hammam-al-Alil, which is about 30 kilometers south of Mosul and have reached the College of Agriculture at its edge, the statement said.

On Friday, the UN refugee agency said it had received reports IS has been instructing residents of Hammam al-Alil to hand over boys age nine and older since October 17, when the Iraqi-led offensive to recapture the country’s second city began, CNN reported.

“The boys are apparently being conscripted to fight on behalf of the terror group,” Ravina Shamdasani, spokeswoman for the UNHCR, told a press briefing in Geneva, Switzerland.

The long-awaited assault on Hammam al-Alil, the last significant town before Mosul on the River Tigris, will add to the pressure on IS fighters.

  Clashes in Eastern Mosul

Iraqi military units were trying to reinforce their presence in eastern Mosul on Saturday, after their progress was stalled Friday by fierce resistance.

Witnesses reported renewed clashes in several districts on Saturday morning as convoys of Iraqi military vehicles moved into several areas.

They said Iraqi troops had taken control of the neighborhoods of At Tahrir in the northeast, and Kirkukli and Zuhra in the east.

Other residents contacted by CNN said IS remained in control of the districts of Qudes and Karama, further south.

IS claimed to have carried out a suicide car bombing in the eastern neighborhood of Aden early Saturday and said it had killed 15 counter terrorism troops and destroyed six military vehicles.

Witnesses report many civilians leaving the area, heading east away from the city.

An Iraqi security official in Gogjali, on the eastern fringe of Mosul, said two suicide bombers on motorcycles drove toward Iraqi troops on Saturday. One was shot and killed; the other escaped.

  Hawija Civilians Killed

Meanwhile, three roadside bombs in two separate locations killed 11 civilians and injured 18 more as they fled the town of Hawija on foot on Saturday, security officials in the city of Kirkuk told CNN.

Most of the casualties were women and children.

Hawija is an IS-held town about 55 kilometers southwest of Kirkuk in the north of Iraq.

Across the border in northern Syria, IS has come under attack from Turkish forces.

The Turkish military hit 71 IS targets in northern Syria in the past 24 hours, Turkey’s Army said in a statement on Saturday.

Five IS militants were killed and one Turkish officer was killed in clashes, the army said. In addition, five members of the Turkey-backed Free Syrian Army were killed and at least 22 others injured.

The statement added that the coalition air force had conducted five airstrikes in northern Syria over the past 24 hours, which killed eight IS militants.

 

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