Iraqi air force warns Mosul civilians about upcoming anti-IS operation

The Iraqi Air Force dropped millions of leaflets over western Mosul and other areas held by the Islamic State (IS) group to warn civilians to stay away from jihadists’ facilities amid a preparation of airstrikes against IS, the Iraqi Joint Special Operations Command said in a statement Wednesday.

“They [the leaflets] also contained the message to our citizens in the terrorist-held part of western Mosul and other areas that the airstrikes would be carried out on Daesh [Arabic acronym for IS] gangs, not civilians,” Russian news agency Sputnik quoted the statement as saying.

The statement added that residents were advised against leaving their homes and approaching command centres and military facilities of IS militants as they would be key targets of the airstrikes.

According to the statement, up to 500,000 leaflets were dropped over the western part of Mosul.

The Iraqi operation to recapture Mosul, the key stronghold of the Islamic State group in the country, began in October 2016 and resulted in the liberation of Mosul’s eastern part this January. Fighting continues in the city’s west.