Islamic State (Isis) snipers have shot and killed a senior Iraqi commander south of Mosul as government forces look to make gains against the Sunni militant group near their de-facto Iraqi capital.
The Iraqi military's joint command said Brigadier Ahmed Badr al-Luhaibi, the commander of Brigade 71st of Division 15, was killed by sniper fire during an operation to retake a village to the south of the IS-held city of Mosul, it has been reported on Associated Press (AP).
AP quoted a spokesman as saying Luhaibi's death would increase "determination to clear" the entire province of Nineveh, of which Mosul is a regional capital. As well as an offensive in western Iraq to take the Isis-held city of Fallujah, government troops have resumed small-scale operations against the Islamic State near Mosul.
Since the start of the Iraqi government's offensive in Fallujah, which began in May, some 27,600 residents have fled the city that has been Isis's largest stronghold in the west of the country. Around 7,000 of them were able to flee after Iraqi government forces retook a key road into the city on 12 June 2016.
A litany of atrocities, perpetrated by both sides, have emerged since Iraqi forces, supported by Shia militias, began their bloody advance into the city just to the west of Baghdad. Aid agencies have warned that Fallujah residents, some of them children, risk being forced to fight for Isis as the militant group uses food to lure the starving civilians to enlist.
Residents from the city have drowned or been killed by IS snipers as they attempted to leave Fallujah across the Euphrates. Footage has emerged of the inhabitants using improvised raftsin attempts to leave the embattled city. They were reported to have used refrigerators and cupboards to cross the river rather than face the IEDs left on other roads by Islamic State. At the same time, civilians caught up in the advance by Iraqi Army and so-called Popular Mobilisation Forces risk torture at the hands of pro-government Shia militia.
According to Yahya al-Muhamadi, an Anbar council member working with displaced civilians and quoted by the Associated Press, five of those detained died while in the group's custody.