Slow Progress in Mosul Campaign

[node:titlA member of Popular Mobilization Forces fighter walks past the displaced people who are fleeing a battle with IS in west of Mosul, Iraq, on Nov. 14.[node:titlA member of Popular Mobilization Forces fighter walks past the displaced people who are fleeing a battle with IS in west of Mosul, Iraq, on Nov. 14.

The self-styled Islamic State terrorist group claimed a series of suicide attacks that killed at least 14 people south and west of Baghdad on Monday, as a US-backed campaign to capture Mosul, the insurgents' last urban stronghold in Iraq, made slow progress.

The attacks showed that even though the militants have been losing territory over the past year and face a big battle to hold Mosul in the north. They, however, retain the ability to strike across Iraq, even in the central areas near the capital, Reuters reported.

Eight people were killed and about 25 wounded when two suicide bombers blew up their cars at police checkpoints in Fallujah, a former IS stronghold west of Baghdad.

A suicide bomber killed six people and wounded another six in a rural area near Karbala, a holy Shia city south of the capital where preparations are underway for a major religious event. The casualty figures were obtained from police sources.

The bomber near Karbala blew himself up west of the city where hundreds of thousands of Shias were gathering to mark Arbaeen, which comes at the end of a 40-day mourning period to mark the martyrdom of Imam Hussein (PBUH), the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

IS has been retreating since last year and was driven out of Fallujah in June. In Iraq, the group continues to control territory west of Mosul, the northern city from where it declared a "caliphate" over parts of Syria and Iraq in 2014.

With air and ground support from the US-led coalition, the offensive on Mosul entered its fifth week on Monday with Iraqi government forces still trying to consolidate gains made in the eastern edge of the city that they breached end of October.

A mixed Kurdish and Yazidi armed force known as the Sinjar Resistance Unit said on Monday it had dislodged the militants from five Yazidi villages west of Mosul in an advance that began on Saturday.

IS fighters overran the five villages in 2014 when it swept over Sinjar mountain and the surrounding region inhabited by Yazidis, killing, capturing and enslaving thousands from the Iraqi religious minority.

Iraqi government forces, who are supported by Kurdish peshmerga fighters and Shia militias, are yet to cross into the northern and southern limits of Mosul, where more than a million people are thought to be still living.

About 54,000 have been displaced by the fighting from villages and towns around the city to government-held areas, according to UN estimates. The figure does not include the tens of thousands of people rounded up in villages around Mosul and forced to accompany IS fighters to cover their retreat toward the city.

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