As Iraqi offensive continues, ISIS leader sleeps with suicide vest

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ISIS leader sleeps with vest (KTRK)

As the offensive against ISIS continues in Iraq, leaders are increasingly becoming desperate and paranoid according to those inside the organization.

An informant sent text messages to Iraqi military sources saying the leader of ISIS lives underground and sleeps with his suicide vest nearby in case of capture, Reuters reported.

Iraqi troops on Sunday fortified their positions in Mosul neighborhoods retaken from the Islamic State group as their advance toward the city center was slowed by sniper fire and suicide bombings, as well as concern over the safety of civilians.

"The biggest hindrance to us is the civilians, whose presence is slowing us down," Maj. Gen. Sami al-Aridi of the special forces told The Associated Press. "We are soldiers who are not trained to carry out humanitarian tasks."

A few hundred civilians emerged from rubble-strewn front-line neighborhoods on Sunday. They included women and children, some of them carrying bags, small suitcases or waving white flags. Mosul is still home to more than 1 million people.

The government sent half-dozen trucks loaded with food aid into the recently liberated areas. Chaos broke out in one neighborhood, where residents climbed on top of the trucks and began helping themselves. Women extended their hands in desperation, trying to get a share of the aid. Young boys chased the trucks and jostled and pleaded for food packages.

"It's hunger that makes people behave like this," said Mohammed Farouq, a 27-year-old resident. "Some families took many boxes, while others did not take any. This is unfair."

Fethi Mahmud Abdulla, another resident, pleaded for people to keep the lines. "People are tired, so tired. Some of them take aid five or seven times," he said.

Al-Aridi said his men were searching homes in areas retaken from IS, looking for militants and vehicles rigged with explosives. Troops in those areas continue to be hit by mortar rounds, sniper fire and suicide bombers, he said.

In the newly liberated areas, roads are blocked by car wrecks and sandbags, and tanks are deployed on wider streets. Snipers on high buildings watch for suicide bombers or other intruders. Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil said four civilians were killed and another four wounded when a suicide car bomb exploded before it could reach the troops it was targeting late Saturday.

The troops laid siege Sunday to the Al-Zohour neighborhood, about eight kilometers (five miles) from the city center. The arrival of the troops at the neighborhood's fringes prompted hundreds of civilians to emerge from their homes waving white flags. The special forces later drove IS from two other neighborhoods.

In Baghdad, four separate bomb attacks targeted commercial areas on Sunday, killing at least 10 civilians and wounding 34, according to police and health officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

Baghdad has for more than a decade been the scene of near daily bomb attacks blamed on IS and other Sunni militants. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for any of Sunday's attacks.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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