Wave of strikes as IS puts up tough de­fence of Mo­sul

The Myanmar Times - - World -

IRAQI forces ad­vanc­ing on Mo­sul faced stiff re­sis­tance from the Is­lamic State group de­spite an un­prece­dented wave of US-led coali­tion air strikes in sup­port of the week-old of­fen­sive.

Fed­eral forces and Kur­dish pesh­merga fight­ers gained ground in sev­eral ar­eas but the ji­hadists were hit­ting back with shelling, sniper fire, sui­cide car bombs and booby traps.

The IS has also tried to draw at­ten­tion away from losses around Mo­sul by at­tack­ing Iraqi forces else­where.

Fol­low­ing a week­end visit to Iraq by US De­fense Sec­re­tary Ash­ton Carter, Amer­i­can of­fi­cials said the coali­tion was pro­vid­ing the most air sup­port yet.

“One week into Mo­sul op­er­a­tion, all ob­jec­tives met thus far, and more coali­tion air strikes than any other 7-day pe­riod of war against ISIL [IS],” Brett McGurk, the top US en­voy to the 60-na­tion coali­tion, wrote on so­cial me­dia.

“There were 32 strikes with 1776 mu­ni­tions de­liv­ered” against IS tar­gets be­tween Oc­to­ber 17 and 23, coali­tion spokesper­son Colonel John Dor­rian said, adding that 136 IS fight­ing po­si­tions, 18 tun­nels and 26 car bombs were de­stroyed.

NATO de­fence min­is­ters are set to meet in Brussels to­mor­row to take stock of the of­fen­sive and dis­cuss pos­si­ble sce­nar­ios fol­low­ing a re­cap­ture of the city.

The of­fen­sive aims to re­take towns and vil­lages sur­round­ing Mo­sul be­fore elite troops breach the city to en­gage die-hard ji­hadists in street-to-street fight­ing.

On the eastern side of Mo­sul on Oc­to­ber 24, fed­eral troops were bat­tling IS in Qaraqosh, for­merly Iraq’s largest Chris­tian town.

Forces en­tered the town for the third day run­ning but ar­moured con­voys around it were shelled from in­side the town.

Fed­eral forces also scored gains on the south­ern front where they have been mak­ing speedy progress, tak­ing vil­lage af­ter vil­lage as they work their way up the Ti­gris Val­ley. On the north­ern front, pesh­merga forces were clos­ing in on the IS-held town of Bashiqa.

While an in­creas­ingly prag­matic IS has tended re­cently to re­lin­quish some po­si­tions to avoid tak­ing too many ca­su­al­ties, US of­fi­cials said the group was mount­ing a spir­ited de­fence of Mo­sul.

If the IS loses Mo­sul in Iraq, only Raqa in Syria will re­main as the last ma­jor city it con­trols in ei­ther coun­try.

The coali­tion es­ti­mates the num­ber of IS fight­ers de­fend­ing Mo­sul – where IS supremo Abu Bakr al-Bagh­dadi pro­claimed a “caliphate” two years ago – at 4000 to 7000. –

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