Daesh militants have developed an improvised explosive device (IED) that can be launched from rifles or dropped from an aerial drone, an arms monitoring group said.
Conflict Armament Research (CAR) said the militant group was "promoting the development of ‘own-brand' weapons" to provide its insurgents with otherwise unavailable armaments.
"The IED can be thrown, launched from an improvised rifle attachment, or in its most recent phases of development, dropped from a commercial, off-the-shelf unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) or drone," CAR said in a report following visits to Mosul in November, February and March.
CAR, which identifies and tracks arms and ammunition in war zones, reported in December that Daesh had been making weapons on a scale and sophistication matching national military forces and that it had standardized production across its realm.
The monitor's findings suggested Daesh was centrally managing the design and production of improvised weapons with the ability to test its systems on the field and refine them as well as use new technologies such as drones. The report said Daesh was using the battle for Mosul to field-test different types of ordnance, an important step in any weapons research and development program.
"Evidence of research and development by [Daesh] forces, compiled by CAR since 2014, suggests that such adaptations are likely to continue and will result in further UAV innovations in the near future, potentially for use in theatres other than Iraq."
The Iraqi forces dislodged Daesh from the ancient ruins of Hatra, which suffered great destruction under the militants' three-year rule, a military spokesman said. Hatra, a city that flourished in the first century AD, lies 125 km (80 miles) south of Mosul, where the militants have been fighting off a U.S.-backed offensive since October.
Iraqi paramilitary units captured the northern province of Hatra yesterday, cutting off several desert tracks used by militants to move between Iraq and Syria. The militants are now surrounded in the northwestern part of Mosul, including the Old City and its landmark Grand al-Nuri Mosque from where their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared in mid-2014 a caliphate also spanning parts of Syria. Iraqi military and elite counter-terrorism forces launched a sweeping, U.S.-backed offensive in October to retake the city, Daesh's last major urban stronghold in Iraq seized in a lightning offensive in 2014.
Mosul is by far the largest city that had fallen to the militants in both countries. The density of the population is slowing the advance of Iraqi forces.
Widespread displacement has led a growing humanitarian concern, with Iraqi authorities saying that more than 200,000 people have fled west Mosul since February. Camps have been set up around the city to provide shelter for the displaced, while others are staying with relatives, renting accommodation or residing in makeshift shelters or unfinished buildings. Displacement from Mosul has not reached the worst-case scenario of a million or more people that had been feared, but that has come at the cost of huge numbers of civilians being trapped in the middle of the battle.