Iraqi forces in Mosul’s first district Karama
Counterterrorism unit paused advance last week after quicker gains
REUTERS/ Iraqi troops entered the Karama district of the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul yesterday, their first advance into the city itself after two weeks of fighting in the surrounding area to dislodge the militants, an officer said.
“They have entered Mosul,” Gen Wissam Araji of the US-trained Counterterrorism Service told Reuters. “They are fighting now in Hay (disrict) al-Karama.”
The counterterrorism unit resumed the offensive on the eastern front yesterday. It had paused its advance last week after it made gains quicker than forces on other fronts, to allow them to close the gap and get nearer to the city.
Iraqi security forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters started the offensive on October 17, with air and ground support from the US-led coalition against the hardline Sunni group.
Pro-Iranian Iraqi Shiite militias joined the fighting on Saturday, aiming to cut the route between Mosul and Raqqa, Islamic State’s main stronghold in Syria.
The battle for Mosul, still home to 1.5 million residents, is shaping up to be one of the toughest in a decade of turmoil following the US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein in 2003.
The CTS will hold its advance in Karama until the forces on the other fronts advance “to protect their back,” Araji said in Bazwaia, a village which was retaken from Islamic State earlier in the day, at the edge of the city’s eastern suburb.
IS militants have been fighting off the offensive with suicide car bombs, snipers and mortar fire.
A member of Iraqi special forces police fires his rifle during clashes with Islamic State fighters in al Shura, south of Mosul, Iraq, on Sunday