Iraqi special forces have moved more than 1,000 people out of villages near the front lines of the battle to retake the ISIS-held city of Mosul and surrounding areas, AP reports.
It quoted special forces Maj. Gen. Haider Fadhil as sayiing that residents of Tob Zawa and other villages were taken to a camp in the nearby Khazer region for safety. The International Organization for Migration says around 9,000 people have been displaced since the operation to retake Mosul began 10 days ago.
An ISIS militant hiding among bushes near the Kurdish Yezidi town of Shingal was captured by Peshmerga forces.
He was captured after a fight with ISIS in the area.
UNHCR airlifting 7,200 tents to Iraq to assist Mosul displaced
The UN's refugee agency (UNHCR) said it has begun airlifting more than 7,000 tents to the Kurdish capital of Erbil from emergency warehouses in Dubai and Amman to assist Iraqis displaced as a result of the ongoing Mosul offensive.
The flights, carrying family tents from UNHCR’s emergency warehouses in Dubai, are arriving at Erbil International Airport for five consecutive days this week. The first flight, with 1,515 tents, arrived on Tuesday night. Altogether, 7,200 tents will be uploaded, UNHCR said in a statement.
“These airlifts are vital and will allow us to respond as soon as displaced Iraqis reach our camps and need shelter,” said UNHCR’s Representative in Iraq, Bruno Geddo. “UNHCR is securing a total of 50,000 tents and 50,000 emergency shelter kits for families on the move and these 7,200 tents will help us reach our target sooner,” he added.
Kurdish PM: Mosul will give birth to another terrorist group if not administered well
Kurdish Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani warned Wednesday that if Mosul is not administered well after liberation from ISIS it will become the birthplace of another terrorist group.
“We had al-Qaeda in Iraq yesterday, we have ISIS today and tomorrow we will have another group if Mosul is not going to have a good administrating system,” Barzani said at the Middle East Research Institute (MERI) in Erbil.
“What is really important and needs discussion is what happens in Mosul after ISIS,” the Kurdish prime minister said.
He added that Mosul is of special importance to Erbil because what happens there has a direct influence on the Kurdistan Region, and that Kurdish Peshmerga forces have carried out the duties assigned to them in the Mosul offensive, which began 10 days ago.
“The Peshmerga have successfully carried out their duties in reaching areas assigned to them,” Barzani said at the MERI Forum 2016.
Touching on continuing problems between Erbil and the central government in Baghdad, Barzani said the Kurds question what they have gained by cooperating with Baghdad.
“We have been working with Baghdad for 11 years and ask ourselves what did we achieve?” he asked.
Barzani stressed that Erbil and Baghdad need to “find a formula to be able to coexist in Iraq,” stressing that a “serious dialogue” is needed over the future of Kurdistan. “We are preparing for this. Iraqis are nowadays willing to have this dialogue, including (Iraqi) Prime Minister Abadi, Barzani said, adding that a dialogue is underway and a solution should be found before the liberation of Mosul.
The prime minister said that Kurdish forces did not want to enter Mosul to avoid the danger of a “potential ethnic conflict.”
Administering Mosul well after liberation is important because of its multi-religious and multi-ethnic population, Barzani said.
“Mosul is like a mini Iraq, where many different groups live, including Kurds, Yezidis, Shabak Kurds, Turkmen, Shiite Turkmen, Arabs, Sunni Turkmen, Arabs, Sunni Arabs and so on," said Barzani, speaking in Kurdish.
“We believe a new Iraq will emerge after Mosul,” he said.
Barzani said that Erbil understands the need to be flexible as it solves problems with Baghdad over Kurdish independence and other key issues.
Barzani stressed that the challenge for Kurdistan is fighting the war with ISIS at a time that Erbil suffers a severe economic crisis.
“You cannot fight a huge terrorist organization while you suffer an economic crisis,” he said. “Today, the subject of the economy is the biggest challenge to the Kurdistan Region.”
Barzani warned that ISIS is not a threat to Kurdistan alone.
“Look what happened in Paris, Brussels and New York. But now we have the honor to defend humanity,” he said, referring to the Kurds.
He added that ISIS is hard to fight because it is a new phenomenon.
“ISIS was something new for the Peshmerga, who were used to fighting in the mountains. There was no such thing as 13 or 14 people blowing themselves up,” he said referring to the favorite ISIS tactic of attacking forces with suicide bombers.
Barzani: Iraq political process, post-ISIS admin in Mosul as important as city’s liberation
In a meeting with visiting Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven in Erbil on Wednesday, Kurdish President Masoud Barzani stressed that the future of the political process in Iraq and the post-ISIS administration of Mosul are as important as the liberation of the city itself.
He emphasized that Iraq needs a serious dialogue on its future and coexistence among its communities, said a statement on the website of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG).
Löfven, meanwhile, “commended the Peshmerga forces for the victories they achieved against the ISIS terrorists, stressing that Sweden will continue its assistance to the Kurdistan Region,” the statement said. It added that, “he reaffirmed the importance of dialogue between Iraq and the Kurdistan Region on the post-Mosul-liberation era.”
Deputy Prime Minister Talabani discussed the political process in Iraq and the issue of the internally displaced people, fleeing Mosul and other parts of Iraq to the Kurdistan Region, according to the statement.
While he thanked the Swedish government for its assistance, he stressed the importance of the continuation of international aid to the Kurdistan Region after the defeat of ISIS.
Talabani expressed his government’s concern that after the liberation of Mosul, the international community may not continue its aid to the refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) as needed.
Löfven “affirmed that providing assistance to refugees is an international issue, and hoped that the international community will deal seriously with this issue in the Kurdistan Region.”
Coalition forces keep up bombardment of ISIS
In the past 24 hours, coalition forces have fired 138 munitions at ISIS in Mosul, said a coalition spokesperson.
Raqqa will begin ‘in the next few weeks’
The military offensive to liberate ISIS’ de facto capital of Raqqa, Syria will begin within weeks and the coalition of forces is “capable of resourcing” both Raqqa and Mosul offensives.
“It’s been long a part of our plan that the Mosul operation would kick off when it did,” US Defense Secretary Ash Carter told NBC News. “This was a plan that goes back many months now and that Raqqa would follow soon behind.”
Peshmerga seize large cache of ISIS weapons
Peshmerga forces have found a tunnel, which is the largest discovered so far on the Bashiqa front.
The tunnel contained a large number of weapons.
Peshmerga forces captured Derk village on Wednesday, on the Bashiqa front, 12 km northeast Mosul.
KRG: We are able to accommodate 33,000 more IDP families
Kurdistan Region’s Joint Crisis Coordination Center (JCC) announced on Wednesday that they have received 5,490 IDPs fleeing Mosul since the operation began.
Hoshang Mohamed, Director General of JCC told Rudaw, “5,490 IDPs have been received by the Kurdistan Region, which is 861 families.”
“The KRG will be able to receive an estimated 33,000 families fleeing Mosul as new camps are being constructed,” he added.
In Khazir camp, east of Mosul, 200 displaced families yesterday evening, reported the International Organization for Migration who were distributing non-food kits to the new arrivals.
JCC believes more IDPs will be fleeing to the Kurdistan Region as Peshmerga and Iraqi security forces are advancing on the 10th day of the military operation to liberate Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. The numbers of people fleeing are expected to increase as the military offensive closes in on the city and moves into more heavily populated areas.
ISIS took over Mosul in June 2014.
Peshmerga liberate Derk on Bashiqa front
Peshmerga forces have retaken the village of Derk on the Bashiqa front, about 12 km northeast of the outskirts of Mosul. They have surrounded a number of other villages on the same front, including Faziliya, where ISIS’ flag has recently disappeared from sight, according to Rudaw’s correspondent on the ground.