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Bombings rock east Mosul as Iraq prepares fresh offensive Open in fullscreen

Gareth Browne

Bombings rock east Mosul as Iraq prepares fresh offensive

Iraqi forces are preparing to storm IS-held western Mosul [AFP]

Date of publication: 14 February, 2017

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Twin suicide bombings rocked a busy market in liberated east Mosul on Monday, as Iraqi forces prepare to launch an offensive against the IS-held west of the city.

Twin blasts hit a busy market in the Mosul neighbourhood of Al-Zuhoor on Monday afternoon in signs that the Islamic State group’s resistance is far from over in the city’s liberated east.

The blasts, caused by suicide bombers, came less than half an hour after Iraqi Intelligence Services, the NSS, conducted a raid in a restaurant in the middle of the market.

The number of casualties is unknown as of yet, but it is known that NSS operations in the neighbourhood and surrounding areas resulted in the arrests of 16 suspected IS members.

Security in the areas was being provided by a coalition of local and federal police with some support from the Iraqi army.

These attacks come just days after several other blasts rocked liberated parts of Mosul.

On Friday, 4 people were killed in the My Fair Lady restaurant in the city’s east. The restaurant was one of the largest in the city. At least 10 others were injured when the suicide bomber detonated his vest.

Friday also saw a car bomb attack in the southern neighbourhood of Intisar resulting in the death of one person and injury of several others.

IS have focused their efforts on such attacks during the current lull in fighting caused by Iraqi forces preparing to cross the river Tigris which dissects the city of Mosul in half.

The start of the operation to recapture Mosul’s west bank is believed to be imminent, and many believe Iraqi forces will likely see far stronger resistance in the city's west, where much of what remains of the group’s leadership in Iraq is now based.

The group has been pulling back resources and fighters since the Mosul operation relaunched in early January, causing the group to lose significant territory in the face of Iraq government advances.

The group is also believed to be attempting to wage attacks elsewhere, even further behind enemy lines than east Mosul.

Last week saw Kurdish authorities arrest 4 IS suspects attempting to pass themselves off as refugees to form a sleeper cell in the disputed city of Kirkuk.

On Sunday evening, an Algerian journalist was critically wounded by an Islamic State sniper near the city of Tal Afar.

Samira Mouaki was embedded with the Hashid al-Shaabi, Iraq’s predominantly Shia paramilitary forces, when she was injured in the head. She was airlifted to a hospital in Baghdad where she remains in critical condition.

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