Mosul Offensive Going Faster Than Planned

As Iraqi and Kurdish forces pursued operations to take the last IS stronghold in Iraq, the terrorist group launched a major counter-attack on the city of Kirkuk on Friday
Mosul Offensive Going Faster Than Planned Mosul Offensive Going Faster Than Planned

The offensive to seize back Mosul from the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group is going faster than planned, Iraq’s prime minister said on Thursday, as Iraqi and Kurdish forces launched a new military operation to clear villages on the city’s outskirts.

Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi, addressing anti-IS coalition allies meeting in Paris by a video link, said, “The forces are pushing toward the town more quickly than we thought and more quickly than we had programmed,” Reuters reported.

IS denied that government forces had advanced. Under the headline “The crusade on Nineveh gets a lousy start”, the group’s weekly online magazine Al-Nabaa said it repelled all assaults on all fronts, killing dozens in ambushes and suicide attacks and destroying dozens of vehicles, including tanks.

Abadi said the Mosul advance demonstrated that Iraqis from all groups could fight in common cause, noting that it was the first time in 25 years that troops from the Baghdad government had entered territory controlled by the Kurdish region to fight alongside the peshmerga.

“Our war today in Mosul is an Iraqi war conducted by Iraqis for Iraqis and for the defense of Iraq’s territory,” he said. “Full Iraqi unity is shining through and more than ever showing the unity to vanquish terrorism.”

  Bartella Freed

Howitzer and mortar fire started at dawn, hitting a group of villages held by IS about 10-20 km from Mosul, while helicopters flew overhead, at two frontline locations north and east of Mosul.

To the sound of machine gun fire and explosions, dozens of black Humvees of the elite Counter Terrorism Service, mounted with machine guns, headed toward Bartella, an abandoned Christian village just east of Mosul, Reuters reported.

Militants were using suicide car-bombs, roadside bombs and snipers to resist the attack, and were pounding surrounding areas with mortars, a CTS commander said.

Hours later, the head of Iraq’s Special Forces, Lieutenant General Talib Shaghati, told reporters at a command center near the frontline that troops had surrounded Bartella and entered the center of the village. Two soldiers were hurt and none killed, and they had killed at least 15 militants, he said.

“After Bartella is Mosul, God willing!”

Iraqi state TV later quoted a CTS spokesman as saying about 80 insurgents were killed in fighting in Bartella and 11 suicide car-bombs destroyed.

  IS Retaliates

As Iraqi and Kurdish forces pursued operations in preparation for an offensive on the last IS stronghold in Iraq, the terrorist group launched a major counter-attack on the city of Kirkuk on Friday.

The IS assault on Kirkuk, which lies in an oil-producing region, killed six members of the security forces and two Iranians who were part of a team carrying out maintenance at a power station outside the city, a hospital source said.

Crude oil production facilities were not targeted and the power supply continued uninterrupted in the city. Kirkuk is located east of Hawija, a pocket still under control IS, which lies between Baghdad and Mosul.

IS also attacked several police buildings In Kirkuk in the early hours of Friday and some of the attackers remained holed up in a mosque and an abandoned hotel.

At least eight militants were also killed, either by blowing themselves up or in clashes with the security forces, security sources said. Kurdish forces had dislodged the militants from all the police and public buildings they had seized before dawn, they said.

IS claimed the attacks in online statements and authorities declared a curfew in the city where Kurdish forces were getting reinforcements.

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters took control of Kirkuk in 2014, after the Iraqi Army withdrew from the region, fleeing an IS advance through northern and western Iraq.


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