Spokesman: Iraqi forces launch new push in Mosul's west

Spokesman: Iraqi forces launch new push in Mosul's west

US President Donald Trump and Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi are discussing keeping American troops in the country even after Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) is defeated, according to officials from Washington and Baghdad.

The move does not mean that the numbers of troops in Iraq and Syria will change, "nor does it change the process by which we will manage those forces", said Davis.

The logic reflects concerns that a premature withdrawal from Iraq at the end of 2011, initiated by President George W. Bush under the 2008 Status of Forces Agreement between the USA and Iraqi governments, created a political vacuum that drove members of the country's minority Sunni population into the arms of terror networks like the al-Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq, ISIS's predecessor.

The campaign has been slowed down by Islamic State's trademark auto bombings and sniper fire in the populous neighbourhoods of western Mosul.

The White House is weighing a proposal to send between 3,000 to 5,000 more troops to Afghanistan to deal with the deteriorating security situation there, with both the Taliban and Islamic State increasingly active in parts of the country.




In line with the ground operation launched by Iraqi forces along the entire Mosul fronts, the War Media Cell said on Thursday that the Iraqi air force launched numerous airstrikes on several ISIS positions in al-Harmat, Telafar and the 17 Tammuz areas and destroyed four weapon and explosive factories, in addition to a cache of missiles and explosives.

The area includes the symbolically important Great Mosque of al-Nuri, where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed the establishment of a "caliphate" after Mosul and much of northern Iraq fell to the jihadist group in 2014. "There are defences in place", he told Reuters.

At least 26 members of the army, police, tribal forces and border guard died in the attacks but the jihadists' "state" has looked doomed for months. Now they aim to free western Mosul, where around 2,000 jihadis are said to have entrenched themselves. But, skilled in guerrilla tactics, the militants familiar with what's left of the city.

"The remaining Daesh [ISIS] terrorists in Mosul are now under heavy siege by the Iraqi forces in the northwestern corner of the city", an army officer told ARA News, adding that their troops are trying to storm the last ISIS stronghold in the Old City of Mosul.

The situation has grown increasingly dramatic for the citizens of western Mosul. They lack the most basic necessities as water, food and fuel are scarce commodities. He is on his way to a relatively safe camp in the southern part of the city. More than 400,000 have fled the violence.

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