recapture Mosul train station from IS jihadists
Former rail hub recaptured
by Iraqi forces as advance continues on foot
through warren of narrow streets on edge of Old
City where armoured vehicles cannot pass.
Old City could
host fiercest fighting yet
MOSUL - Iraqi forces said Tuesday that
they recaptured Mosul's train station, once
one of the country's main rail hubs and the
latest in a series of key sites retaken from
The forces launched a major push last month
to oust the Islamic State group from west
Mosul, taking back a series of
neighbourhoods as well as sites including
the city's airport, the Mosul museum and the
provincial government headquarters.
Some, including the museum, which was
vandalised by IS, have been heavily damaged,
and it will likely be a long time before
trains are again plying the rails to and
But retaking the sites are symbolic
victories for Iraqi forces and also bring
them closer to fully recapturing west Mosul,
though tough fighting remains ahead.
Lieutenant General Raed Shakir Jawdat, the
commander of the federal police, said that
his forces have retaken the train station as
well as a nearby bus station, both of which
are located southwest of Mosul's Old City.
The station was the "main corridor from the
north to the south and carries goods from
Turkey and Syria to Baghdad and Basra,"
Salam Jabr Saloom, the director general of
Iraq's state-owned railway company, said.
Because of its importance, the station was
"exposed to many terrorist attacks before
the entry of Daesh," Saloom said, using an
Arabic acronym for IS.
The station was built in the 1940s, and was
"very important from a trade standpoint," as
it was a "launch point for trains carrying
goods to Syria and Turkey and back," railway
company spokesman Abdulsattar Mohsen said.
"But it stopped after the Daesh attack on
Mosul," Mohsen said, referring to an IS
offensive that overran the city and swathes
of other territory north and west of Baghdad
Trains once carried passengers to and from
Mosul as well, but have not done so since
the overthrow of Saddam Hussein's regime by
US-led forces in 2003, he said.
- 'Horrendous conditions' at prisons -
Iraqi forces are operating on the edge of
the Old City, a warren of narrow streets and
closely spaced buildings where hundreds of
thousands of people may still reside.
The area, in which they will have to advance
on foot when armoured vehicles cannot enter
the small streets, could see some of the
toughest fighting of the Mosul campaign.
Tens of thousands of people have streamed
out of west Mosul to camps around the city
since the battle for the area began.
Security forces are searching for jihadists
trying to sneak out of the city among
civilians, and according to Human Rights
Watch, are holding more than 1,200 men and
boys suspected of IS ties in "horrendous
conditions" at sites south of Mosul.
"The Iraqi interior ministry is holding at
least 1,269 detainees, including boys as
young as 13, without charge in horrendous
conditions and with limited access to
medical care at... makeshift prisons," HRW
said in a report.
"At least four prisoners have died, in cases
that appear to be linked to lack of proper
medical care and poor conditions and two
prisoners' legs have been amputated,
apparently because of lack of treatment for
treatable wounds," the watchdog said.
The facilities are located in Qayyarah and
Hamam al-Alil, said HRW, which visited some
of them earlier this month.
The rights group said that the makeshift
prisons were under the authority of the
interior ministry intelligence service,
which is interrogating people handed over by
security forces fighting IS.
Iraq was under heavy pressure to improve its
procedures for the Mosul operation after
people reported torture and other abuses
during screening of those who fled Fallujah,
which Baghdad's forces retook from IS last
While changes do seem to have been made, the
HRW allegations indicate that significant
problems remain with screening procedures --
problems that breed anger and resentment
that drives more people into the arms of
Middle East Online