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Daesh expel residents to defend river bank in Mosul

By AFP - Jan 23,2017 - Last updated at Jan 23,2017

MOSUL, Iraq — The Daesh terror group expelled civilians from their homes along the Tigris on Mosul’s west bank, apparently bracing for a cross-river attack on their bastion by Iraqi forces, residents said Monday.

“The group forced us to leave our homes... without allowing us to take our belongings,” a resident of Al Maidan, a neighbourhood on the city’s extremist-held west bank, told AFP.

“It deployed gun positions and posted snipers on roofs and at windows,” the resident said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisal by the Daesh gunmen ruling his neighbourhood.

“We were forced to leave the area because it will become a battlefield and so we moved in with relatives in other parts of the city,” he said.

Iraqi forces have all but completed their reconquest of Mosul’s east bank and commanders are turning their sights to the western side of the city, which is expected to see bitter street battles.

Sufian Al Mashhadani, a civil society activist from Mosul, confirmed that Daesh had deployed fighters in buildings along the river front. 

“Daesh prevented the inhabitants and owners of those homes and shops from taking their belongings and their food, claiming those were now the property of the mujahideen [holy warriors],” he said.

All the bridges above the Tigris in central Mosul have been either bombed by Daesh or dropped in air strikes by the US-led coalition.

Mosul residents who lived on the eastern side but owned property or businesses on the west bank have seen their homes and shops seized by Daesh in recent days, said Abdulkarim Al Obeidi, another civil activist.

He said others have been expelled on the grounds that they did not have valid permits and licences.

“Daesh has been distributing those confiscated shops and homes to its fighters on the west bank, especially since their financial resources started decreasing sharply,” Obeidi said.

Iraqi forces launched the offensive to retake Mosul, the extremists’ last major urban hub in Iraq, on October 17.

Daesh militants on the city’s west bank are almost completely surrounded and will be largely unable to resupply but the narrow streets of the old city will make for a lethal terrain when federal forces move in.

Baghdad’s top fighting units have taken casualties in more than three months of what is Iraq’s largest military operation in years.

 

Some of them will redeploy to areas south, north and west of the city, while others could attempt to throw bridges across the Tigris to attack from recently retaken areas on the east bank.

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