Three IS militants die in coalition airstrikes west of Mosul: officer

Iraqi F-16 fighter jets. File photo.

Baaj ( Three Islamic State members were killed on Wednesday when fighter jets from the U.S.-led coalition bombarded the group’s location west of Mosul and near the Iraqi borders with Syria.

Col. Kheder Hussein, from the Iraqi Federal Police, said coalition fighters pounded IS locations in the desert areas of Baaj region, west of Nineveh, killing the trio and destroying a munition reservoir belonging to the group.

Coinciding with the major government operations in Mosul, Iraqi and coalition fighter jets are backing a parallel operation recently launched by ground paramilitary troops of the Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) to clear Baaj and neighboring Qayrawan from IS.

Baaj region, west of Nineveh (google maps)

Iraqi government forces have become close to retaking western Mosul and declaring the full recapture of the city that fell in IS grip in 2014. The eastern section was retaken in January.

On Tuesday, Brig. Gen. Yahia Rasoul, spokesperson of the Iraqi Joint Operations Command, said Iraqi troops became in control over 89.5 percent of territory at western Mosul, having killed more than 16000 militants since the launch of Mosul operations in October. Other commanders had predicted to recapture the city before the end of this month.

Iraqi government forces are eyeing the ancient, densely structured and populated Old City, the place where Islamic State’s supreme leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the establishment of an “Islamic Caliphate” in 2014. Troops besieged the area for weeks from the south, but turned to the northwestern axis to invade the city earlier this month. IS fighters are believed to have been holding hundreds of thousands at that area as human shields.


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