The interior of the underground Tadmour Base that Iraqi army commanders claim was used by ISIS militants to train foreign fighters and teens in southern Mosul was discovered.
Iraqi commanders said there is evidence of ISIS using the base to train foreign fighters, children and teens for bombings and warfare.
An Iraqi commander said: “It is designed as part of the training.
“The trainees, as part of their programs, should crawl onto these barrels and get themselves in the mud to pass this phase of training.
“As you see power has been extended to lighten this base. They have fully equipped it without any shortcomings. The majority of those who used to undergo training here were foreigners.”
Between 12,000 and 15,000 Islamic State fighters remain in Iraq and Syria, a top US general said Wednesday, an indication of a significant dwindling of the jihadists’ forces.
The US military only provides periodic updates on estimates of IS fighters but in 2015 and 2016, the Pentagon put the number at between 20,000 and 30,000 in the two countries.
Some months saw the jihadists being killed in the thousands, though initially at least they were able to replenish their ranks through a porous border with Turkey that now is effectively sealed.
Army Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend told reporters that among the many fighters killed in recent months are an “extraordinary number” of IS leaders, including many close to the group’s elusive leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
“We have a specific campaign to hunt them and kill them,” Townsend said in a video call from Baghdad.
“Almost all of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s inner circle has been killed in the last six months.”
Still, he said about 2,000 IS fighters remain in and around western Mosul, defending the last portions of their former Iraqi bastion.