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Iraqi forces recapture village south of Mosul from IS: Police

After the capture of Mosul, the taking of Imam Gharbi by US-backed forces is part of the next phase of campaign to drive IS from Iraq
Iraqis walk on a street in west Mosul on 13 July 2017 a few days after the government's announcement of the 'liberation' of the embattled city from Islamic State group militants (AFP)
By Reuters

Iraqi forces on Thursday regained control over Imam Gharbi, a village south of Mosul, from Islamic State (IS) group militants who had seized it as their defence of their stronghold in the city crumbled, Iraqi police said.

The action formed part of the next phase of the US-backed government's campaign to drive IS from Iraq and dismantle their self-proclaimed caliphate.

Police Colonel Kareem Aboud said government forces took full control of Imam Gharbi at dawn. They discovered the bodies of two Iraqi journalists who were killed there shortly after the militants attacked, he said.

Troops were now searching the village for remaining militants.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over Islamic State in Mosul on 10 July after a nine-month battle, marking the biggest defeat for the hardline Sunni Muslim group since its lightning sweep through northern Iraq three years ago.

But the militants seized most of Imam Gharbi, on the western bank of the Tigris River about 70 km (44 miles) south of Mosul, in the kind of strike they are now expected to make as Iraqi forces regain control over cities the group captured during its 2014 offensive.

Stripped of Mosul, IS's dominion in Iraq will be reduced to mainly rural, desert areas west and south of the city.

Islamic State also faces pressure in its operational base in the Syrian city of Raqqa, where US-backed Syrian Kurdish and Arab forces have seized territory on three sides of the city.

Rights groups on Thursday moved to condemn Iraqi authorities for human rights abuses in Mosul after 17 bodies of people in civilian clothing were found in pools of blood in a building.

"As Prime Minister Abadi enjoys victory in Mosul, he is ignoring the flood of evidence of his soldiers committing vicious war crimes in the very city he's promised to liberate," said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch.

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