The U.S. accused Islamic State of using human shields on Tuesday as thousands of allied troops advanced to the city of Mosul, the jihadist group’s last urban stronghold in Iraq. By the end of the third day of the major offensive to retake Mosul, the U.S.-led coalition forces ousted IS militants from 10 villages. Iraqi commanders said that the offensive was going as planned while admitting that explosives, suicide bombers and booby traps slowed down the pace of advancement.
One of the residents in Mosul said that IS was not allowing the civilians to leave the city and had instead directed them to sites that are likely to be targeted by air strikes, reports the BBC. Humanitarian agencies are setting up shelters for about 200,000 civilians, who will be in need of immediate assistance in the first few days of the battle.
The coalition forces, which are approaching Mosul from the south and the east in a two-pronged campaign, might take two weeks to reach the city and another two months to liberate it from IS, said Sirwan Barzani, a brigadier general of Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga forces, writes the Guardian.
Barzani added that regional politics is one of the key factors that will delay the process. Amid fears that sectarian violence may flare up in multi-ethnic Mosul, the Peshmerga forces and the Shia militias are not allowed to enter the streets of the city to fight IS. Besides, Turkey’s claims on Mosul and its military presence in Bashiqa, 10 miles north of the city, has further complicated regional politics.