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Iraqi leader Abadi vows 'no amnesty for terrorists' as troops 'mop up' Mosul

The battle to liberate Mosul has been long and costly [AFP]

Date of publication: 13 July, 2017

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Iraqi troops are clearing the last pockets of IS resistance in Mosul as human rights groups paint a chilling picture of Baghdad's assault on the northern city.
Iraqi forces continued their "mop up" of Mosul on Thursday as Baghdad faced renewed criticism from human rights groups over the way the liberation of the city from the Islamic State group has been handled.

Troops are searching homes, tunnels and hideouts in Mosul's Old City for elusive IS fighters, after one of the jihadi group's main urban bastions fell to Iraqi forces following an eight month campaign.

Despite Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's announcement that Mosul has been fully liberated, the last remenants of IS have made a desperate last stand in the northern city's basements and tunnels, the Guardian reported.

Ragged militants have emerged from the rubble of the destroyed city, firing on troops and charging at them with bomb vests.

Troops have responded by throwing grenades into the IS hideouts, which could also be home to the militants' families and other civilians used as human shields.

Human rights groups have painted a bleak picture of liberated Mosul, where the city has been ravaged by air strikes, suicide bomb blasts and shelling.

The Old City has been particularly hard hit with the historic quarter reduced to rubble. The shells of homes are testament to the tough final battle Iraqi troops have endured during the re-capture of Mosul.

Mosul's iconic Grand Mosque of al-Nuri - with its distinctive tilting minaret - was completely destroyed when IS militants blew up the 12th Century historic and holy site.

During the final pitched battle for the city, IS packed the densely packed Old City with civilians to act as human shields, shooting anyone who fled the fighting.

Iraqi troops have been tough in their handling of the local population with fears that militants could be embedded within their ranks.

Some IS fighters - including one woman carrying a baby - have detonated bomb vests when approaching Iraqi military checkpoints.

Abadi has said Iraq would not "pardon terrorists" and brushed off criticism from Amnesty International about the bombing campaign of IS-held Mosul.

"No terrorist escapes punishment and we will not issue an amnesty for the murderous terrorists," he said.

Human Rights Watch have also condemned the "collective punishment" of IS militants' families.

The group said at least 170 families of alleged IS fighters are being held in "rehabilitation camps" east of Mosul, where they are being "held against their will".

Medical workers have told Reuters that at least ten women and children have died travelling to the camp or inside, mostly from dehydration.

"Iraqi authorities shouldn't punish entire families because of their relatives’ actions," Lama Fakih, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch, said.

"These abusive acts are war crimes and are sabotaging efforts to promote reconciliation in areas retaken from [IS]."

Human Rights Watch also mentioned other cases of forced displacement in Anbar province and other territories formerly held by IS.

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