Iraqi special forces have reached a location just a little over two miles away from Mosul itself. The Counter Terrorism Service, taught by U.S. trainers, is now pausing to allow other security forces to catch up to them and to consolidate the front lines before the next phase. The front lines to the south are as far as 20 miles away. As the troops draw closer to Mosul, it is expected that the fighting with Islamic State militants (ISIS/Daesh) will become heavier and, more importantly, there will be more civilians to avoid and protect.
Sunni Arabs who sought refuge in Kirkuk province say they are being displaced yet again after a large-scale attack over the weekend. Authorities believe sleeper cells came into the city along with the displaced civilians. Now Kurdish authorities want the Arab refugees out, believing that there may still be militants among them. The United Nations has expressed its concern over this “collective punishment.”
The sectarian situation in Kirkuk province is complex. The province was historically Kurdish, but Saddam instituted an Arabization program to water down the proportion of Kurds, Turkmen, and Assyrian Christians living there. Kurds retook control of the province after Daesh moved through the region in 2014.
Other Sunnis, however, are fighting Daesh in Mosul.
Khazna was recaptured on Monday. Correspondents saw evidence of house-to-house fighting. Snipers remained on rooftops to surveil nearby desert areas. In recent days, militants have snuck back in to some liberated villages and killed civilians.
Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu threatened to launch a ground operation in Iraq to remove any threats to Turkey’s security. The minister indicated that Kurdistan Workers Party (P.K.K.) involvement in the Sinjar region could be used as justification for such an intervention, suggesting that recent chest-thumping by Turkey to involve themselves in the Mosul operations might have little to do with defeating Daesh.
At least 244 people were killed and 10 were wounded:
Seventy bodies were discovered inside homes in Telul Nasr.
Near Mosul, militants executed 50 former police officers.
Fifteen people were executed, and their bodies were dumped in a river in Safina. Militants dragged six men behind a car and then beat them; they are or were relatives of a tribal elder fighting Daesh. Their fate is unknown.
Militants killed six females, three of them children, and wounded four more children because they were trailing behind during a forced relocation from Rufeila. A disabled child was reportedly the reason the group lagged behind.
A refugee from the recently liberated Abu Jarboa said that several civilians were wounded in airstrikes.
Security forces killed 40 militants while retaking Rutba.
A strike on Qayara left eight militants dead.
Five militants were killed during a raid in Laylan.
Airstrikes on Tel Keif killed five militants.
At Batnaya, the bodies of three militants were found after a four-hour firefight.
Security forces in Qara Tapa killed a militant.
Read more by Margaret Griffis
- ISIS Attacks on Kirkuk Province Highways; Four Killed in Iraq – March 19th, 2018
- Bodies Pollute River in Mosul; 12 Killed in Iraq – March 18th, 2018
- Seven U.S. Airmen Among 131 Killed in Iraq – March 16th, 2018
- U.S. Military Helicopter Crash; 63 Killed in Iraq – March 15th, 2018
- Mass Grave Found Near Kirkuk; 29 Killed in Iraq – March 14th, 2018