Mosul/ Baaj – Iraqi warplanes killed 29 Islamic State militants and set free 24 civilians from the group’s captivity on Saturday as operations to recapture the city approach their end.
The Defense Ministry’s War Media Cell said the airstrikes targeted IS locations in Baaj and Qairawan, west of Mosul and near the Syrian borders. Besides the deaths among militants, the strikes destroyed six vehicles, a fuel container and two motorbikes belonging to the group, according to the statement.
Pro-government paramilitary forces, al-Hashd al-Shaabi, have been sweeping through IS havens in the two areas since May 12th. The offensive ran coincidently with government troops battles against IS in western Mosul, where IS strongholds had shrunk to less than 10 percent of territories.
In western Mosul’s Old City, the last remaining IS haven, Cap. Ali Haider, from the Federal Police, was quoted saying that forces had set free 24 civilians, including women, and killed one IS sniper upon invading a prison run by the militant group at a big salt factory in al-Shefa.
The United Nations says at least 400.000 stranded in IS captivity in the Old City, and 200.000 could flee in coming period as the battle nears its end. The conflict displaced more than 670.000 since October.