– Daesh is recruiting fighters from outside the Mosul, Iraq, to reinforce its defense in the city that is currently under siege, the Pentagon said Monday, reported Anadolu Agency.
“We see them taking administrative and support personnel, people who are not normally under arms. But they are now arming them. We also see them moving for reinforcement from outside,” Pentagon spokesman Jeff Davis told reporters.
The militant group is bringing in fighters from areas the terror group controls from northwest Mosul up to the Syrian border. Davis did not rule out that Daesh is bringing in fighters from Syria.
According to the spokesman, the U.S.-led coalition backed Iraqi and Kurdish peshmerga forces are making “solid progress” toward Mosul despite tough resistance from the militant group.
Peshmerga forces accompanied by Iraqi trops have recaptured Barthella, a town 16 kilometers (10 miles) east of Mosul, Davis said.
“It is in the process of being cleared,” he said, adding that the town of Bashiqa, 20 kilometers (12 miles) northeast of Mosul has also been captured by peshmerga forces.
Davis also claimed that Daesh is popping up in other cities in order to divert forces from Mosul.
According to the spokesman, attacks on Kirkuk and a raid on ar-Rutba, a town in Anbar province close to the southwestern Iraq-Syrian border, were kind of “the diversions” that the militant group attempted.
He added that Kirkuk is settled and Daesh fighters were driven out of Rutba over the weekend but he said Daesh is currently attacking Sinjar in order to attract forces away from Mosul.
Since the Mosul operation started, some internally displaced people moved out of Mosul while some others moved back to the city, he said, but declined to give a number.
According to Pentagon sources, about 6,000 people have fled the city while about 1,500 people moved back.
Responding to a question about potential Daesh fighters moving in or out among refugees, Davis said it is possible but pointed to the Iraqi government’s dealing with the screening of civilians coming out of Mosul.