IED planted by Islamic States fighters explodes in front of Iraqi special forces vehicles in Bartella, east of Mosul, Iraq October 20, 2016. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic
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BARTALLA, Iraq: After crosses were restored and flags raised in this Christian town near Mosul, elite units stayed behind for one of the least gratifying and most dangerous jobs in the war: the clean-up.These members of the counterterrorism service – widely seen as Iraq's best fighting force – are already first in line when Daesh (ISIS) militants have to be taken on in close combat.However, after a road, village or town has been secured and declared retaken, the men criss-cross the area to sniff out snipers, enemies concealed in tunnels, car bombs and booby-traps.The CTS is under the command of Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who in Iraq is the commander in chief of the armed forces.Amr, a 27-year-old from Baghdad who joined the front line a month ago, just a day after his wedding, then briefly got out of his vehicle to confer with the unit moving on foot.
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