Iraqi Forces Kill ISIS Commander During Fight for Iron Bridge in Mosul

by Yesim Usluca
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

BAGHDAD, Iraq — On Tuesday, March 14th, the Iraqi government announced that its forces killed the commander of the Islamic State (“ISIS”).

ISIS commander Abu Abdul Rahman al-Ansary was killed during a fight to take over the Iron Bridge near Mosul (Photo courtesy of Daily News)

ISIS’s commander, Abu Abdul Rahman al-Ansary, was killed in the Old City of Mosul during a fight for the Iron Bridge crossing the Tigris River, which is the terrorist group’s last stronghold in the country. Mr. al-Ansary was reportedly killed by federal police in an attempt to clear the Bab al-Tob district.

Iraqi officers reported that ISIS snipers were attempting to slow down the Interior Ministry’s Rapid Response Units on the Iron Bridge, which links eastern and western Mosul. The officers stated, however, that despite these attempts, the “elite forces” were still moving forward. The Brigadier General of the Rapid Response Unit, Mr. Mahdi Abbas Abdullah, stated that Iraqi forces are progressing towards the Iron Bridge by “taking out snipers hiding in the surrounding buildings[.]” Moreover, the Iraqi military is reportedly using armored vehicles and tanks to remove snipers who are “pinning down troops clearing areas around the bridge.”

Regaining control of the Iron Bridge would transfer the strategic advantage to Iraqi forces. At the moment, Iraq controls two of the pivotal bridges in the area. If captured, Iraqi forces would hold three of the five bridges in Mosul that span the Tigris River. All three bridges have already been damaged by either ISIS militants or air strikes led by the United States.

Mr. al-Ansary’s death was characterized as a “blow” to the ISIS militants after many leaders of the terrorist organization have already retreated from Mosul. The group is now reportedly defending “their shrinking area of control[.]” As of March 14th, Iraqi forces were within 330 feet of the Iron Bridge, and were expected to take over the bridge, and its surrounding area, by the end of the day. A Rapid Response Unit spokesperson stated that recapturing the bridge would “help further tighten the noose around [ISIS] fighters entrenched inside the old city[.]”

Over 600,000 civilians have been trapped in the area held by ISIS. Local residents poured out of western neighborhoods retaken by the government, thankful to be rescued from ISIS’s “grip.” They escaped the violent fighting taking place around their homes, carrying only suitcases, water bottles and “other possessions.” Some were reportedly pushing their children and ill elderly relatives in handcarts and wheelbarrows. They were ushered into trucks by soldiers to be taken to processing areas, and reported that food has been “scarce,” while adding that they have mostly been consuming “water mixed with tomatoes.”

For more information, please see:

International Business Times—End Of ISIS: Islamic State Commander Killed In Iraq As US, Russia And Turkey Compete In Syria—14 March 2017

AlJazeera—Iraqi forces kill ISIL commander in Mosul—14 March 2017

Reuters—IS Mosul commander killed, government forces battle for bridge—14 March 2017

Lebanese Special Forces Capture Eleven ISIS Fighters

by Yesim Usluca
Impunity Watch Reporter, Middle East

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Eleven members of the Islamic State group (ISIS), including a local commander, were captured by Lebanese special forces on the morning of Friday, November 25th.

Lebanese special forces capture local ISIS commander (Photo courtesy of Middle East Monitor)

The Lebanese military issued a statement indicating that the eleven terrorists were captured in an operation targeting ISIS headquarters. It took place in an area heavily populated by hundreds of ISIS fighters along the Lebanese-Syrian border. The statement indicated that the operation led to the capture of ISIS’s local commander in the town, Ahmad Youssef Amoun, who fired upon the Lebanese soldiers attempting to arrest him. He was seriously wounded in the operation and subsequently taken to a hospital in Beirut for emergency treatment.

Photographs said to be of Mr. Amoun were posted on local media websites showing a “young man with a thick beard lying on a hospital bed with a blood-stained sheet covering most of his body.” The Lebanese military stated that Mr. Amoun was responsible for several recent explosions that hit the country. He is alleged to have been involved in making car bombs used in attacks throughout the country. The military further stated that he was also behind the attacks on army posts carried out in August 2014 when ISIS briefly occupied the town of Arsal.

A presidential statement released on behalf of the country’s newly appointed president, Mr. Michel Aoun, indicated that he praised the “pre-emptive security operation.” He is quoted as saying “such special operations strengthen stability and limit terrorist schemes.” The statement issued by the military indicated that no army personnel were injured in the operation.

Over the past two years, ISIS has claimed responsibility for multiple explosions in the country which have killed hundreds of people. The terrorists also captured twenty-five Lebanese soldiers and policemen in August 2014, and have been holding nine of them hostage since then.

For more information, please see:

International Business Times—ISIS In Lebanon: Army Arrests 11 Members, Including Local Commander—25 November 2016

Gulf News—Lebanon army detains Daesh commander near Syria border—25 November 2016

Middle East Monitor—Lebanon captures 11 alleged Daesh militants—25 November 2016

ABC News—Lebanon Army Says 11 IS Militants Detained Near Syria Border—25 November 2016