Iraqi forces move toward east Mosul
IRAQ’S forces resumed their advance on the Islamic State group’s bastion of Mosul yesterday, aiming to position themselves a few hundred metres from the city’s eastern limits.
An officer with the elite CounterTerrorism Service (CTS) told AFP reporters outside the recently retaken town of Bartalla that only two villages remained on the road to Mosul.
“The target is to retake Bazwaya and Gogjali, the last two villages before Mosul,” he said.
“If we manage that, we’ll only be a few hundred metres from Mosul.”
As an aircraft struck a suspected IS mortar position in the distance, the officer’s convoy of Humvees sprayed gunfire across the arid plain toward an area still held by jihadists.
The Joint Operations Command coordinating Iraq’s war on the IS said CTS and army forces launched a drive “to advance toward the left bank of the city of Mosul from three axes”.
Mosul is split by the Tigris River. Iraqis refer to the eastern half of the city as the left bank and the western side as the right bank.
Once the initial phase is over, Iraqi forces are expected to besiege Mosul, attempt to open safe corridors for the million-plus civilians still believed to live there, and breach the city to take on die-hard jihadists in street battles.
Humanitarian organisations have been fighting against the clock to build up the capacity to handle an expected exodus from the city.
The United Nations says up to 1 million people could be displaced in the coming weeks. –
Iraqi paramilitary forces have captured several villages southwest of Mosul from the Islamic State.