Middle East

Iraq conflict: IS bombs kill 17 civilians as Mosul battle rages

Residents who have managed to flee Hawija at a camp near Irbil, Iraq, 24 October 2016 Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Residents who have managed to flee Hawija are being housed at a camp near Irbil

Seventeen civilians have been killed by roadside bombs in Iraq as they fled from a northern town held by so-called Islamic State (IS), police say.

Several families were riding in a lorry when it was hit by two explosions. A policeman also died.

They were fleeing from Hawija, west of the city of Kirkuk.

The deaths came as Iraqi government-led forces continued their assault on Mosul further north - the last city still occupied by IS.

Iraqi forces also attacked Hamam al-Alil, south of Mosul on the Tigris river, and overcame fierce resistance before raising the Iraqi flag in the centre, the army said.

The battle so far

On schedule but not exactly to plan

How IS sells the battle for Mosul

The lorry containing the displaced families was taking them from Hawija, which is about 120km (75 miles) south of Mosul, to the town of al-Alam further south,

Images on social media showed charred corpses and the remains of the vehicle.

Image copyright Stratfor.com/Airbus
Image caption Satellite images show IS barricades on key routes in Mosul and razed ground near the airport
Image copyright Stratfor.com/Airbus
Image caption Closer-up image of the line of barricades

The battle in Mosul continued on Saturday as government forces tried to clear the eastern districts, including al-Zahra, that they entered on Friday.

Government troops and IS fighters exchanged sniper fire from residential rooftops, with both sides also firing mortar rounds. The fiercest clashes were in the al-Bakr area.

Iraq's state-run Iraqia News TV said on Saturday that PM Haider al-Abadi had travelled to Mosul and had inspected front-line combat units.

Mosul has been in IS hands for more than two years.

Meanwhile, newly released satellite images taken on Monday for Texas-based private intelligence firm Stratfor purport to show the defences set out by IS in southern Mosul.

Concrete barricades, rubble and earthen berms block key streets, while buildings have been levelled near Mosul airport for line-of-sight reasons.