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Iraqi forces have recaptured a prison north-west of Mosul that was reportedly the scene of a massacre by Islamic State militants, the military says.

The U.S. will host a meeting of coalition foreign ministers and senior leaders later this month, the State Department announced on Thursday, APA reports quoting Anadolu agency.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, announced the start of an offensive on February 19 to drive extremist militants out of the western side of Mosul.

US commanders are seeing the weakening of ISIS based on Baghdadi's declining media exposure.

Some reports contend that many items had already been removed for safekeeping in Baghdad before ISIS entered; however, the extent of damage is not yet entirely known.

Iraq's United Nations envoy said Friday there was no evidence that the Islamic State group had used chemical weapons in the battle for Mosul.

Iraqi authorities found 107 items of pottery in a house east of Mosul that were in good condition and most likely exhumed from the tunnels of Nabi Yunus.

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An Iraqi commander said the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service raised Iraq's flag over buildings in the neighborhoods.

Despite the destruction the shrine suffered at the hands of ISIS militants, the archaeologists say many priceless artifacts in the palace appear to remain intact, including a marble cuneiform inscription of King Esarhaddon believed to date to 672 B.C. Cuneiform, one of the earliest types of writing, was widely used in ancient Mesopotamian civilizations. Baghdadi, one of the most wanted men in the world, is thought to be in familiar Iraqi desert villages living among sympathetic civilians.

IS jihadists are facing simultaneous offensives in northern Syria by government forces, Turkish-backed rebels, and a US-supported alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters.

The area stretches from the town of Baaj, in northwestern Iraq, to the Syrian border town of Albu Kamal on the Euphrates. USA did everything to capture Baghdadi earlier too by using spy satellites of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency etc. but Baghdadi as per them had taken a lesson from Osama Bin Laden's death. He also switches cars during trips, a lesson learned from the drone strike that killed al Qaeda figure Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen in 2011. Iraqi forces drove the militants from the city in April 2015, but IS has since then managed to launch deadly attacks in and around Tikrit.

IS is alleged to have killed up to 600 inmates, a lot of them Shia Muslims, when it seized Mosul in 2014.

"There will be other commanders rising because the structure of the organization remains", said Fadhil Abu Ragheef, an Iraqi security expert specializing in Islamic State affairs.


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