IS Fighters Trapped in West Mosul

IS Fighters Trapped in West MosulIS Fighters Trapped in West Mosul

Iraqi forces recaptured a third of west Mosul and trapped the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group fighters inside, as they made further gains in their battle to retake the city, officials said on Sunday.

Fierce fighting has shaken Mosul in recent days as thousands of US-backed Iraqi soldiers and police battle to reclaim the country’s second city, AFP reported.

A renewed push against the militants launched on March 5 has seen IS forced from several neighborhoods and key sites, including the main local government headquarters and the famed Mosul Museum.

By Sunday, Iraqi forces were tightening the noose. IS “is trapped. Just last night, the 9th Iraqi Army division ... cut off the last road out of Mosul,” said Brett McGurk, the US envoy to the anti-IS coalition.

“Any of the fighters who are left in Mosul, they’re going to die there. We are very committed to not just defeating them in Mosul, but making sure these guys cannot escape.”

Staff Major General Maan al-Saadi of the elite Counter-Terrorism Service said “more than a third” of west Mosul was now under the control of security forces.

Saadi said CTS forces were battling IS inside Mosul al-Jadida and Al-Aghawat on Sunday, and Iraq’s Joint Operations Command said they recaptured the latter area later in the day.

The JOC also said forces from the Rapid Response Division, another special forces unit, and the federal police were also attacking the Bab al-Toub area on the edge of Mosul’s Old City.

“The battle is not easy ... we are fighting an irregular enemy who hides among the citizens and uses tactics of booby-trapping, explosions and suicide bombers, and the operation is taking place with precision to preserve the lives of the citizens,” said JOC Spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Rasool.

IS resistance “has begun to weaken in a big way”, he added.

IS seized Mosul in mid-2014 and swept across areas north and west of Baghdad, taking control of swathes of territory and declaring a “caliphate” straddling the border with Syria.

“Backed by US-led airstrikes and other support, Iraqi forces have since retaken 60% of the territory they lost,” said McGurk.

The operation to recapture Mosul—then the last Iraqi city under IS control—was launched in October. After recapturing the east of the city, Iraqi forces last month set their sights on the west, where hundreds of thousands of civilians remain trapped.

McGurk said IS fighters were thought to be dying faster than the group can replace them and also said the coalition had trained nearly 90,000 Iraqi security personnel.

Add new comment

Read our comment policy before posting your viewpoints