Mosul front line moving forwards
Forces push on ISIS-controlled city
Iraqi and Kurdish commanders yesterday paused their advance on Mosul, a day after the start of a massive operation to retake the ISIS-held city, which is expected to take weeks, if not months.
The front lines to the east of Mosul were largely quiet, a day after Iraqi Kurdish forces advanced amid a barrage of US-led airstrikes and heavy artillery.
“We are just holding our positions,” said Col Khathar Sheikhan, of the Kurdish forces known as the peshmerga, which captured a handful of villages east of Mosul on Monday. “The Iraqi army will now advance past our arenas of control.” “We have achieved our objectives,” he added. But an Iraqi special forces commander said his troops have delayed an advance following a request from Kurdish forces for more time to achieve their goals. It was not immediately possible to reconcile the conflicting accounts.
Brig Gen Haider Fadhil said his men had planned to move at dawn, but postponed the operation. He said Iraqi army and Kurdish commanders would meet later yesterday.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi had announced the long-awaited offensive before dawn on Monday, vowing to liberate the city from more than two years of extremist rule. Mosul is Iraq’s second largest city and ISIS’s last major urban bastion in the country.
The large and complex battle for Mosul is expected to last weeks or months. It will involve more than 25,000 troops, including the Iraqi army, the Kurdish peshmerga, Sunni tribal fighters and Shia militias.
The US military is providing air support and playing a supporting role on the ground.
A spokesman for the US-led coalition said the operation was proceeding as planned and Iraqi forces were making “excellent progress.”
“There’s no pause in efforts to liberate Mosul. Troops are on the move on various axes of advance toward the city,” said Col John Dorrian.
“Some commanders have reached their objectives ahead of schedule after encountering light-to-moderate resistance.”
The Iraqi Army’s 9th Division meanwhile, reached the outskirts of the town of Al Hamdaniyah, south of Mosul, but stopped advancing because of snipers and suicide bombers, according to a military officer. The Federal Police reached Al Houd village to the east, another officer said.
By the end of the day Monday, Kurdish forces had retaken some 200 square kilometres, according to Massoud Barzani, the president of Iraq’s largely autonomous Kurdish region.
Peshmerga commanders on the ground estimated they retook nine villages and pushed the front line with ISIS back 8km. The front line east of Mosul is now some 30km from the city.
ISIS said it carried out 12 suicide attacks on Monday against the forces advancing on Mosul, including eight that targeted the peshmerga.
The report carried by the ISIS-run Aamaq news agency said Iraqi forces had captured just three villages and that ISIS fighters had halted an advance from the south.
ADVANCE: Kurdish security forces take up a position as they take ISIS-controlled villages