Mosul Today: Shiite militias say 1,000s join fight for Mosul

BAGHDAD (AP) " Iraq's state-sanctioned Shiite militias said Sunday that some 5,000 fighters have joined their push to encircle the country's second-largest city of Mosul and cut off Islamic State fighters there, as bombers killed at least 17 people in residential Shiite neighborhoods in Baghdad.

Here is a look at the main developments on the 14th day of the Mosul Offensive:

SHIITE MILITIAS SAY TROOPS RALLY

The Iran-backed militiamen said the thousands of fighters had joined their advance to the west of Mosul, the self-styled Islamic State group's last bastion in Iraq, linked by road to territory it holds in Syria.

The reinforcements would strengthen the so-called Popular Mobilization Units, to some 15,000 Shiite fighters. The Iraqi military confirmed the figures, which, including army units, militarized police, special forces and Kurdish fighters mean the total number of anti-IS forces in the offensive now stands at over 40,000.

Troops are now converging on the city from all directions, although most fighting is still taking place in towns and villages on Mosul's outskirts.

The operation is expected to take weeks, if not months.

BOMBS ROCK BAGHDAD

In the hours following the announcement of Shiite reinforcements, five explosions rocked predominantly Shiite neighborhoods of the capital, killing at least 17 people and wounding over 60, police said.

Officials said the deadliest of the bombings, a parked car bomb, hit a popular fruit and vegetable market near a school in the northwestern Hurriyah area, killing at least 10 and wounding 34. Other attacks hit the northern Shaab neighborhood, as well as traders' markets in the Topchi and Zataria areas as well as the poorer Sadr City district.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the blasts. But IS has stepped up its attacks in response to the offensive in Mosul, and it was possible the group was targeting Shiite areas in retaliation for the Mosul offensive.

GOVERNMENT TRANSPORT PLANE LANDS SOUTH OF MOSUL

Meanwhile, the Iraqi air force said it had landed a C-130 transport aircraft at Qayara air base, on the southern approach to Mosul, opening a key resupply route. IS forces had been leaving explosive booby-traps to slow their advance, and the announcement suggested the airstrip was now cleared of such danger.

ERDOGAN WARNS: HANDS OFF TURKMEN

Earlier, Turkey's president warned that his government will be closely monitoring the Shiite militias' behavior in northern Iraq and seek to safeguard the rights of ethnic Turkmens there.

In statements carried by state-run Anadolu agency, Recep Tayyip Erdogan told reporters that the militia group could prompt a Turkish response if it "terrorizes" the Iraqi-Turkmen town of Tel Afar, where it is headed in its push around Mosul.

The involvement of the Iranian-backed Shiite militias has raised concerns that the battle for the Sunni-majority city could aggravate sectarian tensions. Rights groups have accused the militias of abuses against civilians in other Sunni areas retaken from IS, accusations the militia leaders deny.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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