Iraqi Forces Advance Deeper In Mosul, Commander Says

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An Iraqi Shia paramilitary group, the Iran-backed Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF) of Shia jihadists, claimed to have made the discovery after driving the militants from the Badush area where the prison is located, as part of a wider USA and Iran-backed campaign to dislodge Daesh from the city of Mosul.

General Maan al-Saadi of the elite Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) was quoted by the AFP news agency as saying: "Around more than a third of [west Mosul] is under the control of our units".

IS has lost "over 60 percent of the territory it once held here in Iraq, and is losing more every day", and is losing fighters faster than it can replace them, McGurk said. Eastern Mosul was liberated by government forces in January.

The Iraqi army and a Shi'ite paramilitary group called the Abbas Division recaptured the Badush area in recent days as they cut remaining Islamic State supply lines to Mosul, completing the encirclement of the city.

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ISIL seized Mosul in mid-2014 when the group swept across areas north and west of Baghdad, taking control of swathes of territory and declaring a cross-border "caliphate" in Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

McGurk said ISIS fighters were thought to be dying faster than the group can replace them, and also said the coalition had trained almost 90,000 Iraqi security personnel.

The operation to recapture Mosul - then the last Iraqi city under ISIS control - was launched in October. That was not the case even a year ago'.

The US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces, an umbrella group for Kurdish and Arab fighters, are closing in on Raqqa.

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"We are waiting for forensic teams and human rights officials to begin unearthing the grave to uncover the whole story of how the ruthless criminal Daesh (Islamic State) killed them in cold blood only because they were from a certain sect", Nouri said.

Eight civilians were among 19 people killed in suspected US-led air strikes 2.5 miles south of Raqqa, the monitor said.

He said Daesh militants were retreating against Iraqi forces in the area.

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