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Islamic State group fortifies Mosul Open in fullscreen

Abdullah al-Thuweini

Islamic State group fortifies Mosul

The IS group claims to have built a defensive perimeter around Mosul

Date of publication: 4 May, 2015

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IS group digs trenches, builds barricades and closes roads as Iraqi forces prepare for operation to retake country's second largest city.

The Islamic State group is building fortifications around Mosul in preparation for an Iraqi army operation to retake the country's second-largest city.

Sources told al-Araby al-Jadeed on Monday that fighters could be seen digging trenches and building concrete barricades around vulnerable areas surrounding the city, the capital of the Nineveh province in northern Iraq.

The new fortifications would complement the so-called "wall of the caliphate", a defensive perimeter around the city that is surrounded by minefields.

The Iraqi government has for months said it was preparing to retake the city, which fell to the IS group last June, but no large-scale operation has been launched so far.

Ali al-Metweti, an MP for Nineveh, told al-Araby: "IS is focusing now on fortifying the perimeter of the city of Mosul, digging a new trench, and erecting concrete barriers that had been used by the Americans during their occupation."

"The terrorist group continues its strategy of besieging major cities by controlling the roads that lead to them, to counter any military attack by Iraqi and Kurdish forces and tribesmen to liberate the city."

An officer fighting in operations to liberate Nineveh, told al-Araby:, "IS has since Friday been making arrests in Mosul, targeting individuals suspected of carrying out assassinations against its fighters."

The source said IS made a series of transfers last week affecting military commanders, Sharia judges, and elite fighters between Raqqa in Syria and Mosul.

Sajida al-Afandi, an MP for the Alliance of Iraqi Forces in Nineveh, said IS fighters have now closed down all the main roads of the province to prevent families from leaving.

Ahmad al-Jubouri an MP for the Iraqi Coalition, told al-Araby, that new military formations were emerging, composing locals from Anbar and Nineveh, to fight alongside the security forces and the Shia dominated Popular Mobilisation Forces militias, to liberate both provinces from IS.

Jubouri said these formations were receiving training in Baghdad, Anbar, and Diyala, in preparation for the assault on IS, pointing out the forces would join the fight as soon as they are ready. Jubouri stressed these forces would be under the command of the Iraqi government.

The Iraqi government has insisted the Shia militias would not be used in any assault on Mosul.

This is an edited translation of the original Arabic.

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