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24 Oct, 2016 02:17

Drone films Iraqi army piling up forces near Mosul before attack on ISIS (VIDEO)

Drone films Iraqi army piling up forces near Mosul before attack on ISIS (VIDEO)

Spectacular drone footage released by RT's RUPTLY video agency shows the Iraqi army amassing its forces at the gates of Mosul, preparing to retake the city on Monday as the large-scale government offensive enters its second week.

READ MORE: Nearly 1,000 reportedly treated for breathing problems after ISIS torches sulphur plant near Mosul

Scores of Iraqi army armored vehicles have been stationed at a camp on the southeast edge of Iraq’s second-largest city, which has been for two years an Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) stronghold. The footage captures vehicles surrounded by the Iraqi army servicemen scattered on the vast camp territory. Some of the excavators are still digging up trenches in last-minute preparations for what is anticipated as a pinnacle of the operation that has been under way for a week already.

RT Arabic correspondent Ashraf Al Azzawi described the situation on the ground south of Mosul in his latest report. While retreating, Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) militants are making sure nothing valuable is left behind, as they not only kill people and destroy monuments but also bring down government buildings, and set fire to oil wells, refinery and pumping stations, bringing the liberated areas around Mosul to the brink of an environmental disaster.

“The IS militants set ablaze an oil well near Qayyarah [a town 30km south of Mosul] before they retreated, which is still burning,” the reporter said, adding that the black smoke has spread over a vast area, reaching the combat zone.

Earlier, terrorists set fire to the remaining stockpiles at a sulfur plant in Mishraq. The toxic gases have filled the area, causing severe breathing difficulties, which affected hundreds of people. The Iraqi army has recently managed to retake the facility.

“We reinstated control over the sulfur plant in Mishraq, which the terrorists were using for several years to rig up their vehicles with explosives and to manufacture improvised explosive devices,” the Iraq National Police (NP) chief told Al Azzawi, adding that Iraqi army has since recaptured 56 oil wells.

“At present all the main sites have been liberated, 48 villages have been liberated in this direction,” he added

On Sunday, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, who have been pressing farther toward Mosul, reportedly came as close as 9 kilometers from the outskirts of the city. In course of the operation, the Kurds said they had taken control of a “significant stretch” of highway, sealing off eight villages and killing dozens of Islamic State fighters.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi army supported by Kurdish forces have also encircled the town of Bashiqa, which lies close to the military base where the Turkish military maintains some 2,000 military advisers, as well as 25 tanks and 150 troops. On Sunday, the Turkish military said it had also taken part in the offensive on Bashiqa, despite repeated Iraqi government calls to withdraw its forces.

“The Peshmerga have mobilized to cleanse the Bashiqa region of Daesh [Arabic term for IS]. They asked for help from our soldiers at the Bashiqa base. So we are helping the tanks with our artillery there,” Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said.

Meanwhile, in western Iraq, IS militants carried an assault on the town of Rutba, blowing up three suicide bombs. Those, however, all fell short of their target, according to Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, spokesman for the Joint Military Command. Rasool confirmed to AP that a number of militants were killed in fighting with the Iraqi army. However, he insisted that the situation in the city remains under the control of government forces.