The U.S.-backed offensive to take back Iraq’s Mosul stronghold from Islamic State fighters enters its second month, but coalition forces still face pockets of heavy fighting. Gavino Garay reports.
An Iraqi Army convoy drives through a cloud of dust as they arrive in Mosul, Iraq. Picture: Felipe Dana/AP
IRAQI troops have discovered what they believe is the first piece of evidence that at least one Australian is helping Islamic State in its stronghold of Mosul.
Members of Iraq’s elite counter-terrorism service have uncovered a black IS flag that they say belonged to an Australian, confirming fears foreign Australian foreign fighters have been assisting the terror outfit in the city, the ABC reported.
Locals said the unnamed Australian IS fighter had been working as a medic. BBC journalist Quentine Sommerville was filming with Iraqi forces when they made the discovery and shared the image of the flag on Twitter.
BBC journalist Quentin Sommerville was in Mosul when the discovery was made. Picture: Twitter/@sommervillebbcSource:Twitter
The discovery comes as Iraqi special forces push deeper into IS’s last major city stronghold.
The US-led coalition backed offensive to take back Mosul, which includes support from Australia, has entered its second month since the battle to reclaim the city began on October 17.
The offensive is turning into the biggest battle in Iraq’s turbulent history since the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.
Iraqi military estimates put the number of Islamic State fighters in Mosul at 5000 to 6000. Facing them is a 100,000-strong coalition of Iraqi government forces, Kurdish fighters and Shi’ite paramilitary unites.
The operation to retake Mosul is becoming one of Iraq’s fiercest battles. Picture: Marko Drobnjakovic/APSource:AP
Security agencies estimate about 110 Australians have been fighting with IS in the Middle East and about 60 are believed to have been killed.
According to the ABC, the Australian’s IS flag was discovered in Mosul just a block from a house extremists had turned into a makeshift workshop to make “killer drones”.
The Australian is believed to have already fled. The discovery also comes as a propaganda video details Melbourne landmarks on IS’s latest hit list.
The video, obtained by Seven News, was aimed to encourage home grown attacks on Melbourne Airport and St Paul’s Cathedral.
Global Islamic politics expert Professor Greg Barton said by showing Australian scenes, the terrorists hoped it would spark attacks.
Islamic State terrorists have released a hit-list of sites in Melbourne, in a shocking new video. Courtesy: Seven News