Erbil, Qayyarah – Iraqi Forces continued to advance in al-Hamdaniya district, largest Christian city in Nineveh Valley, as part of the large military operation to liberate Mosul.
The Iraqi forces broke into Qaraqosh, 15 Km to the southwest of Mosul.
Iraqi Ground Forces Officer said that counter terrorism forces are besieging Qaraqosh now and there are ongoing clashes. Qaraqosh is the largest Christian city in Iraq where 50,000 citizens lived in it until ISIS took control in 2014. Many of Qaraqosh’s residents had to relocate and leave the city.
Chairman of “Fraternite en IraK” association, Benoit Faraj Camurat, said that the city used to contain the largest Christian gathering in one location.
Iraqi Forces are trying to besiege Mosul advancing from the southern axes, while Peshmerga forces are advancing from the eastern axes.
Many families left their homes raising while flags when the governmental forces entered the city.
Iraqi Federal Police Forces major confirmed that the police is checking the IDs of everyone and comparing them to information from local sources. He added that many men began to shave their beards. He even mentioned that one of the citizens introduced himself as Abo Abdallah and said that he was forbidden to smoke cigarettes for two years.
Chief Lieutenant General Raed Shaker Jawdat, commander of Iraqi Federal Police Forces, announced that his forces liberated 352 square kilometers of the areas south of Mosul since the beginning of the battle to liberate the city from the ISIS control.
Jawdat said in a press statement, “Forces from the Federal Police were able to liberate 352 square kilometers of the areas south of Mosul since the start of the battle to liberate the city.”
He also listed ISIS’ losses which included 96 dead terrorist, destruction of 27 booby-trapped vehicles and 31 missile bases. He added that the Iraqi forces discovered several missiles and weapons.
Meanwhile, Reuters reported Senior Iraqi General Lt. Gen. Talib Shaghati saying that up to 6,000 ISIS fighters are currently inside the city. He did not say how many of them are foreigners.
United States experts believe that ISIS terrorist will resort to crude chemical weapons as it tries to repel an Iraqi-led offensive on the city of Mosul, although adding that the group’s technical ability to develop such weapons is highly limited.
U.S. forces have begun to regularly collect shell fragments to test for possible chemical agents, given ISIS’s use of mustard agent in the months before Monday’s launch of the Mosul offensive, one official told Reuters.
In a previously undisclosed incident, U.S. forces confirmed the presence of a sulfur mustard agent on ISIS munition fragments on Oct. 5, a second official said.
“Given ISIL’s reprehensible behavior and flagrant disregard for international standards and norms, this event is not surprising,” the second official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.
U.S. officials do not believe ISIS has been successful so far at developing chemical weapons with particularly lethal effects, meaning that conventional weapons are still the most dangerous threat for advancing Iraqi and Kurdish forces – and any foreign advisers who get close enough.
Sulfur mustard agents can cause blistering on exposed skin and lungs. At low doses, however, that would not be deadly.
Roughly 5,000 U.S. forces are in Iraq. More than 100 of them are embedded with Iraqi and Kurdish Peshmerga forces involved with the Mosul offensive, advising commanders and helping them ensure coalition air power hits the right targets, officials said. Still, those forces are not at the front lines.