Iraqi forces have launched a military operation to liberate a village south of Mosul that "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) gunmen infiltrated as they fled the battles in Mosul's Old City, Iraqi officials said Wednesday (July 12th).
ISIS infiltrated Imam Gharbi in al-Qayyarah on July 5th, seizing territory in the village and barricading themselves inside its buildings.
Joint forces from the Salaheddine Operations Command and the provincial police have launched a military operation to retake the village, said Salaheddine provincial council's security committee member Adnan al-Faraji.
"There are between 125 and 200 ISIS elements positioned on the rooftops of buildings and houses inside the village, and they carry sniper weapons," he told Diyaruna.
Since infiltrating the village, the militants have been carrying out brutal murders and mass executions of residents, he said.
The two journalists "were on their way to Mosul to cover military operations there when ISIS attacked the village", al-Faraji said.
Imam Gharbi, located 70 kilometres south of Mosul along the administrative border between Salaheddine and Ninawa, has a size of about 10 square kilometres and a population of 5,000 to 6,000 families, he said.
Tight security measures
"The militants infiltrated into the village via the Tigris river after they had fled the battles in Mosul's Old City in boats during the night," al-Qayyarah council chairman Mahmoud Abdul Rahman Tabour told Diyaruna.
They met resistance from the residents but managed to enter the village, he said, noting that the number of security forces present in Imam Gharbi was not sufficient to prevent the attack.
Most of the attackers are snipers, Tabour said.
"The village is now surrounded by the military forces from all sides," he said, adding that Iraqi aircraft has combed the banks of the Tigris and cut the militants' supply routes.
"Surrounding villages and areas are under a security alert to prevent ISIS militants from infiltrating them," he added.