Iraq News

ISIL fighters abandon Mosul training camps

By Alaa Hussain in Baghdad


Iraqi forces advance through the desert on the banks of the Tigris River, north-east of the main staging base of al-Qayyarah, on October 20th, during an operation against the 'Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant'. [Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP]

Iraqi forces operating in northern Mosul have found several training camps, bunkhouses and food storage facilities abandoned by the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL), military officials told Diyaruna.

An ISIL training camp discovered in al-Shallalat area in northern Mosul is the largest of its kind found since the start of the operation to liberate Ninawa began on October 17th, a high-ranking Iraqi official said.

Inside the walls of the camp, which were covered with incendiary slogans, Iraqi forces found mannequins that had been used as targets for shooting practice, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and blackboards scribbled with lessons on how to use weapons.

Iraqi army 16th Division head of intelligence Lt. Col. Amer Abbas told Diyaruna the camp stretches across more than 5,000 square meters.

The Iraqi forces have managed to take complete control of the area, he said.

"The camp includes lecture rooms and training spaces for practicing targeting and shooting, as well as labyrinthine tunnels that connect the centre of the camp with nearby residential areas," he said.

Inside the camp, Abbas said, Iraqi forces found weapons, artillery, ammunition and booby-trapping equipment that had been abandoned when the group's fighters fled the area ahead of the advance of the Iraqi forces.

"Capturing this camp and others, as well as the group’s command headquarters, reflects the ability of the Iraqi forces to break the terrorist group in Mosul," he said.

Private homes commandeered

In addition to al-Shallalat camp, Iraqi forces found that ISIL had established training camps inside residential areas and private homes it had commandeered, Brig. Gen. Haider al-Obaidi of the elite Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) told Diyaruna.

The CTS entered the city from the east and has done most of the fighting inside Mosul, successfully retaking several neighbourhoods .

The security forces found a training camp inside two residential homes in al-Zuhour neighbourhood in the central part of Mosul's eastern side, he said.

"The locals informed security forces about the camp as soon as their neighbourhood was liberated," he said, adding that the houses were connected via a secret corridor that allowed ISIL elements to easily move between them.

This location, known as Abi Nusaibah al-Ansari Camp, included training rooms as well as sleeping quarters, a kitchen and a food warehouse, he said.

"The premises were large enough for 50 fighters, whose names were documented on paper and affixed to the doors of their rooms," al-Obaidi said.

In Sumaqiyet al-Shabak village north of Mosul, ISIL commandeered a number of vacant homes belonging to residents who had fled the city for its own use, said Maj. Omar Abdul Zahra of the Iraqi army’s 16th Division engineering unit.

These sites were used to train fighters and as factories for the manufacture of car bombs and explosive devices, he told Diyaruna.

The camp comprises a group of houses belonging to Shabak people who were forced to flee, he said.

"One of the houses was a car bomb factory, while another was used to make explosive devices and a third for locally manufactured missiles," he said.

The 16th Division's engineers have been working to deactivate explosives and safeguard residents' homes in the area, he added, while trying to avoid damage or harm as a result of the quantity of explosive material the group left behind.

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