The Latest: Officer says Iraq troops faced 7 female bombers
MOSUL, Iraq (AP) — The Latest on developments in Iraq, where Iraqi forces are closing in on fast-vanishing IS-held territory in the city of Mosul (all times local):
An Iraqi military officer says Iraqi troops battling to retake Mosul from the Islamic State group faced seven female suicide bombers.
Lt. Col. Salam Hussein, of the Iraqi Special Operations Forces says most of the suicide bombers in Mosul are now women with seven blowing themselves up on Monday alone.
As hundreds of civilians flee the country’s second largest city, Iraqi forces face a daunting threat — suicide bombers hiding among civilians and blowing themselves up the moment they reach soldiers.
Salam says: “Seven women faced our units but thank god our units stopped these women suicide bombers. Some women exploded themselves on fleeing families. This is an evil and cowardly attempt by terrorists to inflict the greatest losses on civilians and security forces.”
Officials say Islamic State group-held territory in Mosul is rapidly shrinking.
After days of fierce battles, Iraqi military officers say IS now controls just over 1 square kilometer in all, or about 0.40 square miles.
Iraqi forces are on the cusp of full victory as the battle for the country’s second-largest city nears its end. At least 15 people were killed in the latest assaults across Iraq, officials said Monday.
Iraqi forces launched an operation to retake the Old City neighborhood in mid-June and after a dawn push last Thursday, they retook the area around the al-Nuri Mosque, which the militants had blown up just a few days earlier.
An Iraqi provincial official says a suicide bomber, disguised in a woman’s all-covering robe, struck inside a camp for displaced people in the western province of Anbar, killing at least 14.
Councilman Taha Abdul-Ghani says the attack took place at dusk on Sunday as authorities were accommodating families that had fled from the Islamic State-held town of Qaim.
Abdul-Ghani says that a police colonel was among the dead. The officer became suspicious about the person in the long robe and walked up to the attacker, embracing him — presumably to reduce the number of casualties — as he detonated his explosives.
The explosion also wounded at least 20 people.
Iraqi forces have pushed IS out of most of Anbar, and are now in the final stages of a major offensive in the northern city of Mosul. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack but suspicion is likely to fall on IS, which has carried out similar attacks in the past.
An Iraqi officer says that two women suicide bombers, hiding among a group of fleeing civilians, targeted Iraqi troops in Mosul, killing one soldier and wounding several.
Sgt. Ali Abdullah Hussein says the attack was the latest by the Islamic State group as Iraqi forces close in on the last pocket of militant-held territory in the Old City neighborhood. The IS group’s last stand in Mosul is rapidly shrinking, with the militants now controlling just over 1 square kilometer in all.
Hussein says the attack happened on Monday morning in the area of the destroyed al-Nuri Mosque.
He said that over the past three days, at least four such attacks have targeted Iraqi forces as hundreds of civilians flee the fierce fighting in the Old City’s congested streets.