Iraq

The blast took place in the morning when a roadside bomb planted by the Islamic State (IS) militants apparently targeted civilians fleeing the militant-seized town of Shirqat, some 280 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, the source from Salahudin Operations Command told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The victims were members of families who left their homes to seek help from security forces outside the besieged town, the source said.

Families from Shirqat were prevented from leaving their homes by the IS militants who used them as human shields during armed military attacks.

However, the siege upon the town imposed by security forces has forced most extremist militants to flee the town towards the IS major stronghold in Mosul, 400 km north of Baghdad.

The escape of several IS militants weakened their grip on the town, enabling civilians to leave their homes, following long-term repeated power blackouts, acute food shortages, scarce drinking water and medicine.

Meanwhile, a recent report by Iraq’s Ministry of Migration and the Displaced said that over 15,000 families fled Shirqat and nearby areas, which have been under extremist militant control since 2014.

The mass migration comes as security forces attempt to recapture the town of Shirqat, which is the last town still under the IS control in Salahudin province, as well as the IS-held town of Hawijah in the nearby province of Kirkuk.

The liberation of the two towns is part of a major offensive targeting liberating the IS stronghold in Mosul, the capital of Iraq’s northern province of Nineveh.

Iraq has witnessed worsening violence since the IS group took control of parts of its northern and western regions in June 2014.

Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq, has been under the IS control since June 2014, when Iraqi government forces abandoned their weapons and fled, enabling the IS militants to take control of parts of Iraq’s northern and western regions. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/News Ghana

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