In Mosul, Iraqi snipers track jihadists around the clock




Mosul (Iraq) (AFP) - A few hundred metres from an iconic mosque in west Mosul, Iraqi sniper Salah al-Zuheiri has his eye glued to his scope as he searches for Islamic State group jihadists.

Iraqi forces are battling to retake Mosul from IS, after the group overran the city in 2014 and its leader proclaimed a "caliphate" from the mosque in its Old City.

IS "fighters are within range. We're tracking them day and night," says Zuheiri, a sniper with the Iraqi federal police who has taken up position some 300 metres (yards) from the Al-Nuri Mosque.

Inside a darkened room in a four-storey building retaken from the jihadists, Zuheiri tries to steady his rifle on sandbags.

A map of the surrounding neighbourhood, hand-drawn in red, hangs on the wall in front of him.

Zuheiri and his colleagues stay in the same positions for up to 12 hours a day, he says, for two weeks straight.

They "get food three times a day", he adds, and leave their positions "only when it's really necessary, like to go to the bathroom".

"We kill between three and five jihadists a day," he says.

Nearby, Murtada al-Lami lies on his stomach, the end of his barrel jutting out through a tiny hole in the wall in the direction of the Al-Nuri Mosque and the adjacent "Hadba", a leaning minaret that has long been Mosul's most recognisable landmark.

IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his only public appearance at the mosque in July 2014 to declare a self-styled "caliphate" in parts of Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

- 'Human shields' -

To help the snipers find their targets, in a nearby room Iraqi soldiers take turns tracking IS fighters through binoculars.

And on a screen, members of a special unit survey thermal footage sent in from aircraft above the city.

"We're the ones who decide to shoot or not. We also have thermal binoculars, but we check the data with our colleagues to avoid an error," says Lami.

An officer in the group, who asks to remain anonymous, says snipers recently killed an IS emir, or leader, in west Mosul.

"Our snipers killed an IS emir on the west bank, creating great confusion in the Old City," he says, referring to the west bank of the River Tigris, which divides the city.

Fearing air strikes, jihadists went to the leader's funeral unarmed, the officer says, "but forced civilians to attend to act as human shields".

The presence of civilians in the Old City is a major obstacle for Iraqi forces fighting to retake west Mosul after seizing the east in January.

The United Nations says some 600,000 civilians remain in IS-held sectors, which include two thirds of the Old City, a warren of narrow streets.

As military vehicles cannot advance in the historic city centre, last month, General Raed Shakir Jawdat said dozens of snipers had been deployed on its roofs to cover advancing troops.

But IS also has snipers of its own.

"A few days ago a jihadist fired at me, but he hit the wall behind me," says Zuheiri. "I located his position and shot him down quickly."

COMMENTS

More Related News

Pope Francis arrives in Cairo seeking to mend ties with Islam
Pope Francis arrives in Cairo seeking to mend ties with Islam
  • World
  • 2017-04-28 12:02:24Z

By Philip Pullella and Eric Knecht CAIRO (Reuters) - Pope Francis arrived in Cairo on Friday hoping to mend ties with Muslim leaders just as Egypt's ancient Christian community faces unprecedented pressure from Islamic State militants who have threatened to wipe it out. In an address to the Egyptian

Two US troops killed fighting IS in Afghanistan
Two US troops killed fighting IS in Afghanistan

Two US troops were killed and one was wounded while fighting an Islamic State group affiliate in Afghanistan, the US military said Thursday, near where Washington this month dropped the "Mother of All Bombs". US Forces-Afghanistan said the troops "came under attack during a raid against insurgents in Nangarhar province" late Wednesday. The troops were working with partnered Afghan soldiers in the raid against IS Khorasan, a local offshoot of the jihadist group based in Iraq and Syria.

Trump gives Pentagon power to reset Iraq, Syria troop limits
Trump gives Pentagon power to reset Iraq, Syria troop limits
  • World
  • 2017-04-27 00:55:16Z

By Phil Stewart WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump has given the military the authority to reset a confusing system of troop limits in Iraq and Syria that critics said allowed the White House to micro-manage battlefield decisions and ultimately obscured the real number of U.S. forces. The

Turkish warplanes kill six Kurdish militants in northern Iraq: army
Turkish warplanes kill six Kurdish militants in northern Iraq: army
  • World
  • 2017-04-26 16:32:22Z

Turkish warplanes hit Kurdish militant targets in northern Iraq on Wednesday and killed six militants, the military said, in a second day of cross-border raids. A military statement said the air strikes targeted the Zap region, the Turkish name for a river which flows across the Turkish-Iraqi border

Islamic State developing new weapons despite losses: arms monitor
Islamic State developing new weapons despite losses: arms monitor
  • World
  • 2017-04-26 14:33:59Z

Islamic State militants have developed an improvised explosive device (IED) that can be launched from rifles or dropped from an aerial drone, an arms monitoring group said on Wednesday. Conflict Armament Research (CAR) said the Sunni militant group was "promoting the development of 'own-brand

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Cancel reply

Comments

Top News: Latin America

facebook
Hit "Like"
Don't miss any important news
Thanks, you don't need to show me this anymore.