Iraqi Army Elite Force Pauses Advance Near Mosul

Iraqi Army Elite Force Pauses Advance Near MosulIraqi Army Elite Force Pauses Advance Near Mosul

An elite unit of the Iraqi Army paused its weeklong advance on Mosul as it approached the city’s eastern edge on Tuesday, waiting for other US-backed forces to close in on the last major urban stronghold of the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group in Iraq. Seeking to relieve pressure on their forces controlling the northern Iraqi city, IS fighters who have waged counter attacks across the country battled Iraqi troops in the desert town of Rutba, 450 km to the southwest, Reuters reported.

On the ninth day of the offensive on Mosul, government forces and allied Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are still fighting their way toward the city’s outer limits, in the early stages of an assault thatcould become the biggest military operation in Iraq in over a decade.

The first to get near to Mosul, advancing to within 2 kilometers (just over a mile) of Iraq’s second largest city, was the elite US-trained Counter Terrorism Service.

CTS troops have moved in from the east, dislodging IS from a Christian region that has been empty of residents since the ultra-hardline militants took over the place in 2014.

The combat ahead is likely to be more difficult and deadly because of the presence of civilians. Some 1.5 million residents remain in the city and worst-case forecasts see up to a million being uprooted, according to the United Nations.

UN aid agencies said the fighting has so far forced about 9,000 to flee their homes. UN human rights spokesman, Rupert Colville, said IS fighters have reportedly killed scores of people around Mosul last week.

Colville said security forces discovered the bodies of 70 civilians in houses in Tuloul Naser Village south of Mosul last Thursday.

“IS also reportedly killed 50 former police officers outside Mosul on Sunday,” he said.

The Mosul campaign, which aims to crush the Iraqi half of IS’s declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria, may become the biggest battle yet in the 13 years of turmoil unleashed by the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.


Iraqi special forces soldiers drive armored vehicles Bartella, east of Mosul, Iraq, on October 24.


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