ISIS fire mis­siles in fierce re­sis­tance

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

Iraq’s spe­cial forces en­tered the out­skirts of Mo­sul yes­ter­day and were ad­vanc­ing to­ward its more ur­ban cen­tre de­spite fierce re­sis­tance by ISIS fight­ers who hold the city.

It was the first time Iraqi troops have set foot in the city, Iraq’s sec­ond largest, in more than two years. The ad­vance could be the start of a gru­elling and slow oper­a­tion for the troops, who will be forced to en­gage in dif­fi­cult fight­ing in ur­ban ar­eas that is ex­pected to take weeks, if not months.

Troops en­tered Gog­jali, a neigh­bour­hood in­side Mo­sul, and were only 800 me­tres from the more built-up Karama dis­trict, ac­cord­ing to Maj. Gen. Sami al-Aridi of the Iraqi spe­cial forces.

“The spe­cial forces have stormed in,” he said. “Daesh is fight­ing back and have set up con­crete blast walls to block off the Karama neigh­bour­hood and our troops’ ad­vance.” He added that bombs have been laid along the road into the city.

Mo­sul is the fi­nal ISIS bas­tion in Iraq, the city from which it drove out a larger but de­mor­alised Iraqi army in 2014 and de­clared a “caliphate” that stretched into Syria.

Its loss would be a ma­jor de­feat for ISIS, but with the clos­est Iraqi troops still some 10 kilo­me­tres from the cen­tre, much ground re­mains to be cov­ered.

Yes­ter­day’s bat­tle opened up with Iraqi ar­tillery, tank and ma­chine gun fire on ISIS po­si­tions on the edge of Gog­jali neigh­bour­hood, with the ex­trem­ists re­spond­ing with guided anti-tank mis­siles and small arms in an at­tempt to block the ad­vance.

Airstrikes by the US-led coali­tion sup­port­ing the oper­a­tion added to the fire hit­ting the dis­trict. From the nearby vil­lage of Bazwaya, smoke could be seen ris­ing from build­ings on the city’s edge, where shells and bombs were land­ing.

ISIS fight­ers lit spe­cial fires to pro­duce dark smoke and ob­scure the aerial view of the city.

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