17 civilians killed in Islamic State shelling east of Mosul: officer

Displaced people, who fled the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul, gather at Hassan Sham camp, east of Mosul, Iraq, January 2, 2017. Picture taken 2, 2017. REUTERS/Ari Jalal

Nineveh ( Seventeen civilians were killed and 13 others were injured on Thursday when Islamic State militants bombarded residential areas east of Mosul as government forces continued to storm neighborhoods to drive militants out.

Joint Operations major Shokr Mahmoud was quoted by Bas News as saying that the shelling targeted the districts of al-Bakr, al-Aalam, Muharibin and al-Zohour. He added that security forces evacuated civilians from those areas.

Iraqi generals have said they had become in control over 70 of Mosul’s eastern section. But IS militants have regularly bombed areas they have lost to security forces since operations kicked off in October to recapture Iraq’s second largest city.

Earlier on Thursday, Federal Police forces said they became 700 meters away from al-Salam hospital, a strategic bastion which militants captured from security forces a few weeks ago.

IS still maintains hideouts in the west close to its strongholds in Syria, but Iraqi generals and allied militia leaders say the group has become isolated from Syria and Iraq.

Security officials estimate the number of remaining IS combatants by 6000. But those are fighting against at least 100.000 government and militia soldiers.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in December the battle for Mosul was entering a “decisive” stage, and predicted that the operations could realize final victory within two months.

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