Iraq Forces Advance in Mosul
Iraqi forces have fought their way into two more southeastern districts of Mosul but their advances are being slowed by the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group’s tactic of using civilians for cover, a military spokesman said on Tuesday.
The United Nations said civilian casualties had streamed into nearby hospitals in the last two weeks as fighting intensified in the militia’s last major stronghold in Iraq, Reuters reported.
Advances by elite forces in the city’s east and northeast have picked up speed in a new push since the turn of the year, and the US-backed forces have for the first time reached the Tigris River, which bisects the city.
But fighting in neighborhoods in the southeast has been tougher.
“The challenge is that they [IS] are hiding among civilian families; that’s why our advances are slow and very cautious,” Lieutenant-Colonel Abdel Amir al-Mohammedawi, a spokesman for the rapid response units of Iraq’s federal police, said.
He said rapid response units and Iraqi army units had fought their way into the Palestine and Sumer districts in the last day, but that IS fighters were firing at civilians trying to flee.
“The families, when they see Iraqi forces coming, flee from the areas controlled by Daesh [another name of IS] towards the Iraqi forces, holding up white flags, and Daesh bomb them with mortars and Molotov cocktails, and also shoot at them,” he said.
“Whenever they (IS) withdraw from a district, they shell it at random.”