Iraqi's Shiite militias launch anti-IS push west of Mosul

ERBIL, Iraq Iraq's Shi'ite paramilitaries launched an offensive on Friday to drive Islamic State from a desert region near the border with Syria as security forces fought the militants in the city of Mosul.Spokesman Karim al-Nouri said the target of the operation was the Qairawan and Baaj areas about 100 km west of Mosul, where us -backed Iraqi forces are advancing in their campaign to rout the militants from city.

Iraq's Chief of Staff Lt Gen Othman al-Ghanimi repeated his optimism that the Iraqi Security Forces are to liberate western Mosul before the start of the holy month of Ramadan on May 26.

The extremists' deterrence seems effective as cases of families attempting to flee Daesh-held areas before the arrival of the federal security forces are relatively rare.

A displaced Iraqi holds her baby while she moves to a safe place as Iraqi forces battle with Islamic State militants, in western Mosul, Iraq May 10, 2017.

Rudaw's Ranja Jamal, embedded with the Iraqi forces, reported ongoing clashes in the Islah al-Zaraye and Iqtsadiyeen districts northwest of the right bank of the Tigris River that bisects the city.

Sources added that Iraqi security forces liberated on Wednesday new neighborhoods and raided others in the west of Mosul, while conflicts are ongoing between besieged ISIS members and the security forces.

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Defeat in Mosul, the militants' last urban stronghold in the country, would still leave Islamic State in control of swathes of Syria and Iraqi territory near the Syrian border.

IRAQI troops broke through Isis lines in west Mosul yesterday, taking several districts from the death cult.

UNHCR has opened 12 camps for civilians fleeing the conflict in Mosul, and almost 500 children, women and men children have arrived at the newest camp, Hasansham U2, located around 60 km west of the city, since it opened on Tuesday, Mahecic said. Hatra is an UNESCO World Heritage-listed site that ISIS is said to have destroyed. The ongoing Mosul offensive, which was announced in October by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, retook the eastern half of Mosul earlier this year and has secured over 34o square miles of the west, Pentagon spokesperson Navy Captain Jeff Davis said Friday.

"The front that has been tasked to the Hashd al-Shaabi is one of the most significant and most unsafe fronts in this operation", al-Asadi said then.

Recent gains in the north meant the remaining militants were being squeezed into an ever smaller area, he added.

  • Sonia Alvarado