In pictures: Iraqi Army captures over a dozen ISIS car bombs in west Mosul

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (2:50 P.M.) – ISIS appears to be running low on volunteer suicide bombers in Mosul after the Iraqi Federal Police captured a large car bomb factory in the newly liberated ’17th Tammuz’ district of northwestern Mosul.

Upon discovery of over a dozen ready-made fortified car bombs, these were hastily transferred to rearguard positions for immediate destruction to avoid any complications following a potential ISIS-counter attack:

Chris Tomson | Al-Masdar News
Chris Tomson | Al-Masdar News
Chris Tomson | Al-Masdar News

Prior to Mosul’s encirclement late last year, ISIS withdrew all its armored vehicles and tanks to Syria; instead, Islamic State commanders have relied heavily on modified civilian cars to function as deadly mobile bombs.
Due to recent advances, the Islamic State controls just three neighborhoods anchored on the western part of the Tigris River.

Meanwhile the Counter Terrorism Units, 9th and 15th divisions have been relieved of their duties in Iraq’s second largest city, rendering the final counter-insurgency operations to the Iraqi Federal Police and Rapid Response Division to deal with.

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Breaking: Iraqi forces liberate strategic airbase in west Mosul

 BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:00 P.M.) – The pro-government Popular Mobilization Forces (Hashd Al-Sha’abi) continued their Al-Qaiwaran offensive, Thursday, targeting the strategic Sahel Sinjar Airbase that was under the control of the Islamic State (ISIL) forces.

Within hours of launching their assault, the Popular Mobilization Forces asserted full control over the Sahel Sinjar Airbase, forcing the remaining Islamic State terrorists in the area to retreat northeast.

The capture of the Sahel Sinjar Airbase, today, puts the Iraqi forces in position to liberate the remaining territory in Al-Qairawan that is still under the control of the Islamic State terrorists.

Al-Qairawan is incredibly important to the Iraqi Armed Forces because of its proximity to the Islamic State stronghold of Tal ‘Afar, which is located near both Mosul and the Syrian border-crossing into Al-Hasakah.

Iraqi militia teams up with Iraqi Airforce in advance against ISIS towards Syrian border

BEIRUT, LEBANON (10:28 PM) – The Iraqi pro-government forces of the militia Al-Nujaba have reportedly made new gains against the Islamic State (ISIS), as they took control over several villages in Iraqs border region, moving towards Syria.

While the Iraqi Ground Forces are currently securing the last pockets of the Islamic state in the latters former bastion Mosul in north Iraq, the forces of Al-Nujaba already aim to push ISIS out of the northwestern parts of the country.

Reports claim, that in their latest advances towards Al-Qaywaran the pro-gouvernment forces were able to liberate 4 villages. With those under their control, the first phase of this operation, whith the ultimate goal of freeing Al-Qaywaran, is completed.

With Al-Qaywaran still some 17 km away, the next step in their efforts, will be for the militia to seize control of the Thura airbase and Al-Ba´aj from the Islamic State. If they succeed, they will have layed the ground to finally claim back the important town of Al-Qaywaran from the terrorist group.

In addition the Iraqi Airforce took it’s bite from ISIS forces. The Iraqi AirForce Command confirmed that around 50 fighters of the Islamic state have been killed in a row of airstrikes on six different local headquartes of the Islamic state in Iraq. The headquarters were located in the regions of Tal Afar, Al Ba´aj and Qaywaran.

With the last days of the Islamic State in Mosul counted, Iraq also seeks to secure it’s border with Syria. This would further impede formers already crippled economy, which heavily relies on smuggling through the various porous borders of the region.


ISIS on its last legs in Mosul as Iraqi Army liberates four suburbs – Map update

DAMASCUS, SYRIA (5:10 A.M.) – The Iraqi Armed Forces have proven highly productive over the past 48 hours, liberating four neighborhoods in Mosul city and placing ISIS with its back against the wall on the Tigris River.

Pushing ever quicker through the Islamic State pocket with overwhelming numbers, the Iraqi Army imposed full control over the Al-Aurabi, Hawi Al-Kanisah, Harmat, Islah Al-Zera’i neighborhoods.

The advance was secured by the Rapid Response Division, Counter Terrorism Units and Iraqi Federal Police, three wings of the Iraqi Armed Forces competing to liberate the most urban territory inside the former Islamic State bastion.

With operations underway to cut the ISIS pocket in two down the middle, Iraqi troops also captured around 40% of the Al-Rafaee district.

Over 60 ISIS insurgents were killed during intense urban warfare on Monday and dozens more captured with jihadist moral reportedly at an all-time low.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Nineveh governorate, the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) renewed their push on the Qayruwan region, liberating the villages of Khazna Al-Janobuia, Karkash, Sultan, Tall Sheikh, Kabar, Khazna Al-Shimalia, and Tall Kasab.

ISIS commanders and their families have reportedly begun to flee to Syria from the Qayruwan and Ba’aj regions with the PMU moving ever closer to the border with Syria.


War Crimes, Death and Destruction in Mosul ~ [+LIVE UPDATES]


It’s been months since the Mosul operation began, and – unlike in the coverage of the liberation of Aleppo – Western media have lauded it. But RT journalists have been on the ground in Mosul and discovered more to the story: civilian deaths and damage caused by the U.S.-led coalition’s airstrikes.

[click here]

Rushing into crossfire:
Mosul civilians flee amidst coalition airstrikes & Daesh

“It was hell for us, and when the Iraqi army came we celebrated. Our district was completely destroyed. Suicide bombers, rockets, jets bombed us all the time. Civilians are still buried under wreckage”, an elderly woman said.

“Very often the jets would miss. Seven entire families near us were killed this way. Perhaps their weapons were faulty, as they regularly went off-target”, a young female refugee in burka said.

“There are so many people hurt by airstrikes. Four children were wounded yesterday. While they were playing in the garden”, a male refugee told Gazdiev, saying that “army artillery bombed us nonstop“…[…read more…]………..


[click here]

Syrian War Report – March 17, 2017: ISIS Defenses Collapsing Across Syria

March 17, 2017

Voiceover by Harold Hoover

In the province of Aleppo, the Syrian army’s Tiger Forces liberated the villages of Tal Ahmar, Asimiyah, Qarin, Hazazah, Tal Ayyub, Um Zulaylah and Rasm al-Harmel. Government troops also attacked ISIS units at Ahmadiyah and Zubaydah.

Government forces took control of the Al-Mazar Mountaion, the nearby military depots, the Palmyra gas field. Government troops destroyed an ISIS vehicle at the al-Talila crossroad and some 4 ISIS members at the town of Arak.

Over 150 Russian sappers arrived the Syrian city of Palmyra to take part in a mine clearance effort, the Russian Defense Ministry announced. The sappers will use cutting-edge equipment and protective gear, Ruslan Alakhverdiyev, Deputy Chief of the Russian Armed Forces’ Engineering Troops said at the Russia-24 TV channel.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) mostly consisting of the People’s Protection Units (YPG) captured the Hamad Assaf and al-Kulayb villages, the al-Kulayb Grain Silos and entered entered Judayat Khabur east of the ISIS-held city of Raqqah.

The Free Syrian Army’s Martyr Ahmad al-Abdo Forces have launched an offensive against the ISIS terrorist group in the eastern part of the Qalamoun Mountains in the Rif Dimashq province. Pro-militant sources claim that the Martyr Ahmad al-Abdo Forces seized multiple sites from ISIS. Clashes are ongoing.

Iraqi forces secured the Badush area west of Mosul after a series of clashes with ISIS terrorists in the area and recaptured a large chunk of Mosul’s Old City and three of five Mosul bridges. Up to 20 ISIS members were killed in the recent clashes in the area. According to the Iraqi military, Iraqi forces have achieved control over 60 percent of western Mosul since operations to recapture that area launched in February.

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Iraq Wants More Russian Weapons for Its War with IS

Iraq Wants More Russian Weapons for Its War with IS

PETER KORZUN | 25.02.2017 | WORLD

Iraq Wants More Russian Weapons for Its War with IS

Russia is considering Iraq’s request for arms supplies. The statement was made by a Russian official during the IDEX-2017 arms exhibition in Aby Dhabi. Federal Service for Military-Technical Cooperation (FSMTC) Deputy Director Alexei Frolkin said that Russian-Iraqi military technical cooperation “is developing quite effectively.” According to him, Russia is rendering significant military assistance to Iraq, which is fighting Islamic State (IS) militants.

On January 30, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Moscow did not rule out the possibility of assistance to Iraq in the fight against the IS terrorist group if Baghdad shows such an interest. The statements on arms supplies come amid the ongoingoperation to liberate the Iraqi city of Mosul, which began in October, 2016. Iraqi troops have managed to advance in the eastern part of the city, but the western part – on the right bank of the Tigris River – remains under militants’ control.

Russiaand Iraq have a history of successful military cooperation. In October 2012, Iraq signed a $4.2 billion deal to include a combination of 43 Mi-35 (28) and Mi-28NE (15) attack helicopters, plus 42-50 Pantsir-S1 combined short to medium range surface-to-air missile and anti-aircraft artillery weapons systems. The contract was fulfilled last October as the attack helicopters and anti-aircraft systems had been delivered to the Iraqi military.

The Iraqi armed forces inventory also includes Russia-produced TOS1ABuratino heavy flame throwers, Grad truck-mounted 122mm multiple rocket launchers, 152mm MSTA howitzers, Su-25 attack planes and armored vehicles.

According to Rossiyskaya Gazeta, Russia-made weapons are widely used in the battle for Mosul.TOS-1A heavy flamethrower system is a 220mm 24-barrel multiple rocket launcher and thermobaric weapon mounted on a T-72 tank chassis. It is designed for defeating enemy personnel in fortifications, in open country, and in lightly armored vehicles and transport. In addition to traditional incendiary rockets, it can also fire thermobaric rockets. When fired, the rockets disperse a cloud of flammable liquid into the air around the target, and then ignite it. The explosion is significantly longer and the shockwave is much stronger than a conventional warhead. All the oxygen in the near vicinity is also consumed, creating a partial vacuum. It is a formidable weapon to strike terrorists hidden in bunkers and caves, like in Mosul, for instance. A full salvo of the system’s 24 rockets will make a rectangle 200 meters by 400 meters to incinerate more than eight city blocks.

The Wall Street Journal reported in December that a Russian Kornet anti-tank guided missile destroyed 120 IS truck bombs in Iraq. Reportedly, it obliterated a US-made Abrams tank. The Kornet can defeat reactivearmorand penetratesteel armorup to one meter deep.

Iraqi Mi28 and Mi-35 effectively launch attacks against IS positions in Mosul.

The military cooperation with Iraq – the country engaged in fierce fight against the IS – is part of a larger process.

Moscowis the key player in the Astana process aimed at achieving peace in Syria. It is expanding its naval base in Tartus as well as a new air base near Latakia, giving it a large, permanent military foothold to project power.

Turkey, a NATO member, is in talks with Russia regarding the purchase of advanced S-400long-range air defense missile systems. The parties are studying the prospects for boosting military cooperation in all areas, including procurement deals in electronic systems, ammunitions and missile technology. The related issues were discussed during the visit of General Hulusi Akar, the head of the Turkish armed forces’ General Staff, to Moscow last November.Moscowand Ankara are engaged in implementation of the ambitious Turkish Stream gas project.Turkeyhas even mentioned the possibility of joining the Shanghai Cooperation Organization.

Political forces in Libya have approached Russia for help. In January Eastern Libyan military commander Khalifa Haftar visited Russia aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov on patrol in the Mediterranean.

The Russian-Egyptian relationship has flourished recently, including intensive military cooperation.

Moscowenjoys close ties with Tehran, cooperating in Syria. Iran has recently boosted its anti-aircraft capabilities after receiving Russian S-300 air defense systems.

Russiaand Jordan cooperate in the anti-terrorist effort.

Russiaand Israel set a good example of avoiding conflicts and incidents: both countries do not interfere with each other’s activities in Syria.

Algeriais strengthening ties with Moscow. It has recently purchased 14 Su-30MKA fighters and 40 Mi-28 attack helicopters. Other contracts may follow as the country is facing a terrorist threat to make it strengthen its borders.

Moroccoand Tunisia are interested in strengthening its military capabilities with Russian weapons.

The military cooperation encompasses the Persian Gulf. Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Qatar’s State Minister for Defense Khalid bin Mohammad Al Attiyah signed a military cooperation agreement last September on the sidelines of the Army-2016 international military-technical forum in Kubinka near Moscow.

The success of the military operation, as well as Moscow’s staunch support of the ally in Damascus, boosts its clout in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Moscow has become an important partner for regional powers regardless of their opposing interests.

Russia is back to the region as a major actor. It has turned the tide of the Syrian conflict to take control of the peace process. It has built a close relationship with Turkey, including joint military activities in Al Bab. It develops strategic relationship with Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Algeria and other countries, including Israel. According to Newsweek, over the past two years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has received the leaders of Middle Eastern states 25 times – five more than former US President Barack Obama, according to a Newsweek analysis of presidential meetings.

Russian military effort in MENA is gaining ground. High effectiveness of Russian weapons in the Syrian boosts the customer demand and, consequently, political clout. The military operation in Syria has greatly raised its regional profile. It prevented Islamic extremists from turning the country into a part of “caliphate” to encourage their supporters and sympathizers across the Muslim world.

Moscow is perceived as a pragmatic, savvy, no-nonsense player able to weigh in on regional matters by both diplomatic and military means. New alliances emerge and old friendships are revived to involve the countries long regarded as being within the Western sphere of influence. The political landscape of the region is going through fundamental changes, with Russia greatly influencing the process.

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