Iraqi Forces Seize More Ground in Mosul
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iraqi forces Tuesday pushed toward the river side of Mosul’s Old City, their key target in the eight-month campaign to capture Daesh’s (ISIL or ISIS) de-facto capital, and Iraq’s prime minister predicted victory very soon.
Iraqi forces, battling up to 350 militants dug in among civilians in the Old City, said federal police had dislodged Daesh terrorists from the Ziwani Mosque and were only a few days away from ousting militants completely from the Old City.
“The victory announcement will come in a very short time,” Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on his website Monday evening.
“The operation is continuing to free the remaining parts of the Old City,” Lt. Gen. Abdel-Wahab al-Saadi of the Counter Terrorism Service told a Reuters correspondent near the front line in the heart of the Old City.
Iraqi forces had about 600 meters of ground left to cover before reaching Mosul’s corniche road along the western bank of the Tigris, federal police commander Lt. Gen. Raed Shaker Jawdat told Iraqi State TV.
“In a few days our forces will reach Corniche and bring the battle to its conclusion,” Jawdat said.
Federal police and elite CTS units in Mosul were battling with Daesh militants in the Old City’s maze of narrow alleyways, along with the army and Interior Ministry units.
The territory that Daesh still holds in Mosul has been reduced to an area that now amounts to about 2 square kilometers in the ancient Old City district. Front lines were quiet in the Old City Tuesday as Iraqi special forces scouted the terrain. Troops ducked into narrow alleyways, through bright courtyards and up balconies to reach positions with a view of the now destroyed grand Al-Nouri Mosque.
The historic mosque grounds remain under militant control.
Iraqi troops Monday captured the Al-Faruq quarter, facing the mosque, the military said.
Saadi said Daesh holds “very little” territory inside Mosul at the present moment, adding that he hoped the operation would be concluded within days. The army’s 16th infantry division Tuesday seized the Mashahda quarter in the northwestern corner of the Old City, and federal police took Al-Bayd and Ras al-Jadda, in the southwestern quarter, military statements said.
But despite staggering territorial losses, Daesh has managed to launch a number of counterattacks and insurgent assaults inside some Mosul neighborhoods that were retaken from Daesh earlier this month.
The attacks forced Iraqi forces to pull some assets away from the Old City to again clear the Yarmouk and Tanak neighborhoods, which were declared liberated of Daesh in May.
The attacks also underscore the security threat Daesh will likely pose long after the Takfiri group is routed from all of Mosul and other territories it holds in Iraq.
According to the Iraqi officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, the latest counterattacks began Sunday by scores of Daesh terrorists dressed as Iraqi volunteer forces.
The Iraqi government once hoped to take Mosul by the end of 2016, but fighting has dragged on as militants have reinforced positions in civilian areas, effectively using residents as human shields. Hundreds of civilians who managed to escape as the forces advanced into the Old City gathered on the side of the road at the edge of western Mosul Tuesday.