At least three Iraqis have lost their lives after Daesh fighters fired mortars containing chemical agents against civilian areas south of Mosul as Iraqi forces press ahead with the large battle to liberate the northern city.
On Saturday night, the Daesh militants fired 15 mortar shells, some of which filled with chlorine gas, at a village in Sharqat district, located on Tigris River banks 100 kilometers south of Mosul.
An unnamed Iraqi security source told Iraq’s War Media Cell that the victims of the incident were all members of a family. Two others were also wounded in the attack.
The attack comes days after New York-based Human Rights Watch warned against the use of toxic chemicals by Daesh militants in areas near Mosul as the terror outfit is making desperate attempts to keep its last stronghold in Iraq in the face of a large-scale liberation operation there.
“The use of toxic chemicals as a means of warfare is a serious threat to civilians and combatants in and around the embattled city of Mosul, and is a war crime,” HRW said.
In another development, two fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units were killed at a bombing in a district situated north of the central city of Ramadi, Iraq’s al-Sumaria news website reported.
The victims were trying to defuse improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and mines planted in a house, according to the report.
Separately, Iraqi army jets carried out airstrikes on a building in Ramadi’s Anah district, killing Daesh ringleader Mustafa Mansur al-Ravi along with five other militants.
Ravi was said to be among Daesh heads in the western Anbar Province and a direct supervisor of bombings and attacks against Iraqi security forces.
The commander of Nineveh Liberation Operation, General Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah, said that armored units attacked Mosul’s al-Salam district and targeted Daesh-held positions, killing over 30 terrorists.
Since October 17, the Iraqi army, volunteer Shia and Sunni fighters as well as Kurdish Peshmerga forces have been engaged in an offensive to liberate Mosul, the last Daesh bastion in the Middle Eastern country.
In a relevant development on Sunday, Human Rights Watch accused Iraq’s Kurdish security forces of having illegally destroyed Arab homes in northern Iraq over the past two years in what may amount to a war crime.
The rights group cited in a report the obliteration of homes across 21 towns and villages in Kirkuk and Nineveh provinces between September 2014 and May 2016.
Joe Stork, HRW Deputy Director for Middle East, said the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) security forces “destroyed Arab homes – but not those belonging to Kurds – for no legitimate military purpose.”
“KRG leaders’ political goals don’t justify demolishing homes illegally,” he added.
The report was based on a number of field visits and interviews with over 120 witnesses and officials.