Mo­sul front line mov­ing for­wards

Forces push on ISIS-con­trolled city

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

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

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