BAGHDAD (AP) — MOSUL, Iraq (AP) — The Latest on the battle to retake Mosul from the Islamic State group (all times local):
The United Nations says Islamic State fighters have killed some 70 civilians in Mosul this past week over accusations of collaboration with Iraqi forces pushing into the city to drive them out.
In a report released Friday in Geneva, it said IS reportedly shot and killed 40 people on Tuesday after accusing them of “treason and collaboration,” dressing them in orange jumpsuits and hanging their bodies from electrical poles.
It says that in another incident, the extremists on Wednesday reportedly shot to death 20 civilians in the Ghabat Military Base on charges of leaking information. Those bodies too were hung at various traffic intersections in Mosul, with notes stating that they had “used cell phones to leak information.”
The reports were the latest evidence of IS exactions on civilians as it retreats into dense urban quarters of Iraqi’s second largest city.
The Kurdish commander responsible for military operations at the formerly IS-held town of Bashiqa says his forces are still working to secure the northern Iraqi town.
Gen. Hamid Effendi told The Associated Press on Friday that large numbers of booby-trapped explosives remain in the town. He estimates the unexploded bombs could number more than a thousand.
He says most of the more than 100 IS fighters have been killed in combat, but that injured fighters likely remain in defensive tunnels built by the militants.
Effendi says he hopes the town will be fully secured by Saturday, but it will take longer to clear all the unexploded bombs. For that reason, civilians will not be allowed into the town in large numbers for at least a week.
Iraqi troops inched have ahead in their battle to retake the northern city of Mosul from the Islamic State group on Friday, as the U.N. revealed fresh evidence that the extremists have used chemical weapons.
Exchanging small arms and mortar fire with IS positons, the special forces entered the Qadisiya neighborhood, advancing slowly to avoid killing civilians and trying to avoid being surprised by suicide car bombers, said Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil.
Regular army troops control 90 percent of the Intisar neighborhood, said one officer, but progress had slowed because “the streets are too narrow for our tanks.” He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief reporters.
Iraqi troops are converging from several fronts on Mosul, the second-largest city and the last major IS holdout in Iraq. Kurdish peshmerga forces are holding a line north of the city, while Iraqi army and militarized police units approach from the south, and government-sanctioned Shiite militias guard western approaches.