Iraq’s sectarian political leaders have plunged back into a dispute over the status of Shi’ite armed groups, undermining efforts to reunite the country as its troops press on with the assault of Mosul, Islamic State’s biggest stronghold.

Forty days into the biggest ground offensive in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, about a quarter of the city has been taken by U.S.-backed government units on the eastern side. The western part could prove far more dangerous, Major General Najm al-Jubbouri, one of the army’s top commanders, told Reuters.

Residents still wearing the long beards demanded by Islamic State welcomed Iraqi troops into a neighborhood of east Mosul with coffee, cheers and kisses after the fighters left.

“Today we have been released from prison,” said a resident, Ahmed Zeidan Mahmoud. “We were imprisoned. No water, no electricity, there was nothing.”

On the wall of a kindergarten, the faces of two girls were blotted out by militants who consider it un Islamic to depict people. Nearby, a dog was eating the corpse of a militant.

The slow progress was overshadowed by the sectarian political quarrel that erupted in Baghdad on Saturday when Shi’ite lawmakers forced a law through parliament legalizing the mainly Iranian-backed paramilitary units known as Popular Mobilisation forces.

Read the whole story from Reuters.

 

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