Troops retake Mosul govt HQ

Iraqi government forces supported by Shiite fighters advance in the village of Badush, 15 km from Mosul, Tuesday. (AFP)
Updated 08 March 2017
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Troops retake Mosul govt HQ

MOSUL: Iraqi forces on Tuesday recaptured the main government building in Mosul, the central bank branch and the museum where three years ago the militants filmed themselves destroying priceless statues.
A Rapid Response team stormed the Nineveh governorate complex in an overnight raid that lasted more than an hour, killing dozens of Daesh fighters, spokesman Lt. Col. Abdel Amir Al-Mohammadawi said.
The buildings, already in ruins, were not being used by Daesh, but their capture is a landmark in the push to retake the militants’ last major stronghold in Iraq, now restricted to the heavy populated western half of Mosul.
Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi flew into Mosul to visit the troops. “Iraqis shall walk tall when the war is over,” Al-Abadi said as he arrived.
Daesh snipers continued to fire at the main government building after it was stormed, restricting the movements of the soldiers, and forces pushing further into western Mosul came under rifle and rocket fire.
“The fighting is strong because most of them are foreigners and they have nowhere to go,” said the head of a sniper unit for the Rapid Response, Al-Moqdadi Al-Saeedi.
Some of Daesh’s foreign fighters are trying to flee Mosul, US Air Force Brig. Gen. Matthew Isler said.
“The game is up,” Isler said at the Qayyara West Airfield, south of the city. “They have lost this fight and what you’re seeing is a delaying action.”
The militants looted the central bank when they took over the city in 2014 and took videos of themselves destroying archaeological artifacts. Traffic in antiquities that abound in the territory under their control, from Palmyra in Syria to Nineveh in Iraq, was one of their main sources of income.
Authorities announced Tuesday that Iraqi forces had regained complete control of the west Mosul neighborhoods of Al-Dawasa, Al-Danadan and Tal Al-Ruman, bringing the total number of recaptured areas to 10.
In Al-Danadan, streets were left strewn with rubble and windows blown out of many houses.
“There were mortar rounds falling on us, they fell on the roof and in the courtyard,” said Manhal, a 28-year-old resident of the area.


EgyptAir denies reports of ‘lowering volume’ of on-flight Islamic prayer

Updated 7 min 5 sec ago
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EgyptAir denies reports of ‘lowering volume’ of on-flight Islamic prayer

CAIRO: EgyptAir has denied claims that it has decided to stop playing its pre-flight Islamic travel prayer, as had been reported by local newspapers.
Some news reports claimed that the Egyptian national carrier had muted the Islamic prayer that follows its pre-flight safety information.
The airliner has been at times criticized by some for ‘forcing’ the prayer on passengers by playing it out loud.
Sources quoted from the company said that it has not banned the onboard prayer but has rather “lowered the volume” at which it plays.
It said the move aims to ensure the comfort of its passengers, and what is consistent with the safety of its aircrafts.