BAGHDAD (AP) — The Latest on the battle in Iraq, now entering its fourth week, to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State group (all times local):
The Iraqi military says it has found some 100 decapitated bodies in a mass grave south of the Islamic State-held city of Mosul.
The spokesman for the Joint Military Command, Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, says the bodies were discovered Monday near the agricultural college in the town of Hamam al-Alil. Most were reduced to skeletons.
A forensics team from Baghdad will investigate the site on Tuesday. Rasool says the state of the bodies made it difficult to tell by their clothes if they were soldiers or civilians.
IS has carried out several massacres since it swept into northern and central Iraq in the summer of 2014, often documenting them with photos and videos circulated online.
Iraqi forces launched a massive operation last month to drive the extremists from Mosul and surrounding areas.
Kurdish officials say that a Japanese national they had detained had links to the Islamic State group, but that he has been handed over to Japanese authorities.
In a statement, the Kurdistan Region Security Council said Kohsuke Tsuneoka was also known by the nom de guerre Shamil K. Tsuneoka, and was detained near Mount Zerdk, east of Mosul, on Oct. 27.
They say an investigation found he was in contact with IS members through his smartphone, and that he left on a flight out of Irbil on Monday.
Japan’s Kyodo News agency has previously said that Tsuneoka was a freelancer reporting on the battle to recapture the city of Mosul from the Islamic State group, and had been held by Kurdish military forces known as the peshmerga.
Iraqi officials say separate attacks in different suburbs of the capital have killed at least 14 people and wounded 43 others amid a massive government-run military operation to drive Islamic State militants from the northern city of Mosul.
Police say the deadliest among Monday’s attacks took place in Arab Jabour in southern Baghdad when two mortar rounds landed in a residential area, killing four civilians and wounding 11 others.
In the western suburb of Abu Ghraib, three roadside bombs hit an Iraqi army patrol, killing an officer and two soldiers and wounding eight troops, police added. Other attacks targeted anti-IS Sunni tribal fighters, a checkpoint and two outdoor markets.
Medical officials confirmed the casualty figures. All officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to release information.
-Sinan Salaheddin in Baghdad
The U.N. health agency says it has set up 82 “rapid response teams” to manage risks of epidemics, chemicals exposure and other health worries among people fleeing Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul.
The World Health Organization says that water and sanitation in camps for displaced people could “face disruptions” as the numbers of those who fled Mosul is growing, raising the risk of food- and water-borne diseases such as cholera.
In its statement on Monday, WHO also says that additional concerns include children who reportedly haven’t been immunized since the radical Islamic State group seized control of Iraq’s second-largest city in June 2014.
Iraqi government forces have been leading an effort to expel IS, and numerous U.N. agencies have been mobilizing to help civilians who are expected to flee Mosul in massive numbers. About 1 million people are believed to be still living in the IS-held city.
Iraqi Kurdish fighters are exchanging heavy fire with militants as they advance from two directions on a town held by the Islamic State group east of the city of Mosul.
The town of Bashiqa has been surrounded by Kurdish forces known as peshmerga for weeks. Monday’s push appears to be the most serious yet to drive IS from the area, which is about 13 kilometers (8 miles) northeast of Mosul.
Kurdish forces launched mortar rounds and fired heavy artillery into the town on Sunday in advance of the offensive.
As the Kurdish forces advance, more artillery and air strikes are hitting the town.
The three-week-long Mosul offensive has slowed down in recent days as Iraqi forces have pushed into more densely populated areas of the city.