Isis fighters in rare surrender as defences crumble in Mosul

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Iraqi Kurdish channel Rudaw said its reporter Shifa Gardi was killed by a roadside bomb in Mosul on Saturday.

The Iraqi Ministry of Defense announced on Saturday that Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have fully liberated al-Yarmouk power station in Western Mosul.

The United Nations World Food Programme said on Monday it was extremely concerned about dire humanitarian situation facing families in western Mosul.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said in a February 12 memo that using the term ISIS to refer to the terrorist group, which has occupied large swathes of areas in Iraq and Syria, will create consistency, the Washington Post reported Friday.

Backed by USA airpower, and bolstered by Shi'ite militias and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, Iraqi forces launched their initial assault to force IS out of their stronghold city in October. The fighters took smaller vehicles to block roads against advancing Iraqi forces, while using larger SUV-type ones for themselves, residents said.

Though incremental and only the beginning of what is expected to be a long and protracted battle for the rest of Mosul, the latest developments reflect the Iraqi military's determination to liberate the city, Iraq's second largest.

Witnesses and police, as well as human rights organizations, say that Islamic State (IS, Daesh, formerly ISIS/ISIL) murdered and dumped the bodies of thousands of Iraqi troops into the sinkhole after they captured Mosul three years ago.

The Iraqi campaign involves a 100,000-strong force of Iraqi troops, Shi'ite militias and Sunni tribal fighters backed by a US -led coalition that provides vital air support as well as on-the-ground guidance and training. U.S. personnel are operating close to the frontlines to direct air strikes. Aid groups warned on Friday that the most risky phase of the offensive was about to begin.

At the nearby American Qayyara West airfield - long known as Q-West from when it was a much larger US base several years ago - the 2nd Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division has settled in behind acres of new blast walls to protect its Apaches and RQ-7 Shadow surveillance drones, which buzz constantly over Mosul and its surrounding villages.

"In the battle for the eastern half of the city of Mosul we saw the overwhelming majority of civilians staying in their homes rather than fleeing". Iraqi forces seized control of the airport overnight Thursday. Some said Islamic State had forced them to move from Samarra, 250 km (160 miles) south of Mosul. "And from what we have heard it is not just a grave but also an execution site".

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