HAMMAM AL-ALIL – Iraqi security forces swept through the recently recaptured town of Hammam al-Alil, south of Mosul on Monday (November 7), uncovering a prison used by Islamic State (ISIS) militants to hold residents of the village.
The government troops recaptured Hammam al-Alil on Sunday (November 6) from ISIS, according to a senior commander of the Iraqi security forces.
Residents of Mosul and nearby villages said ISIS was using civilians as human shields abducting local residents and forcing them to march alongside militants to make themselves immune from airstrikes and military operations of the Iraqi troops.
Riyad Ahmad Thaer, a resident of Hammam al-Alil recalled witnessing dozens of men being driven to the makeshift prison in pickup trucks.
“This is a prison where the residents of the city who rose up against the Daesh were kept. They gathered the men who were part of the movement and others who were not, all the families, they hit them and forced them to come here, to this place,” he said.
The forces continued to search the town for Improvised Explosive Devices and any remaining jihadists.
The advance on the southern front comes days after Iraqi special forces fought their way into the eastern side of Mosul, taking control of six neighborhoods according to Iraqi officials and restoring a foothold in the city for the first time since the army retreated two years ago.
Mosul, the largest ISIS-controlled city in either Iraq or Syria, has been held by the group since its fighters drove the army out of northern Iraq in June 2014. The campaign to retake it is the most complex military operation in Iraq since the 2003 U.S. invasion which toppled Saddam Hussein.
Twin offensives on Raqqa and Mosul could bring to an end the self-styled caliphate declared by ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi from the pulpit of a Mosul mosque in 2014.