Iraqis fight ISIS to Mo­sul bridge

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL - QAS­SIM AB­DUL-ZAHRA In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Su­san­nah Ge­orge of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

BAGH­DAD — Iraqi forces reached one of Mo­sul’s five de­stroyed bridges Mon­day as they pushed deeper into the western half of Iraq’s sec­ond-largest city, driv­ing Is­lamic State mil­i­tants back with the help of U.S.-led airstrikes.

Maj. Gen. Thamir al-Hus­saini said the mil­i­ta­rized Fed­eral Po­lice ad­vanced in the face of snipers, anti-tank mis­siles and sui­cide car bombs, de­scrib­ing “fierce” clashes in which Iraqi forces suf­fered ca­su­al­ties, with­out pro­vid­ing ex­act num­bers.

Just a few miles from the front, wounded troops streamed into field hos­pi­tals, many of them suf­fer­ing from shrap­nel wounds. One soldier had lost the lower part of his leg in an ex­plo­sion.

Front-line medics at one field hos­pi­tal said they had re­ceived more than 20 ca­su­al­ties by mid­day. The medics spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity in line with reg­u­la­tions as Iraq’s mil­i­tary does not re­lease ca­su­alty in­for­ma­tion.

U. S.- led airstrikes dis­abled all of Mo­sul’s bridges span­ning the Ti­gris River last year in a bid to iso­late the mil­i­tants in the western half of the city. Iraq de­clared eastern Mo­sul “fully lib­er­ated” last month, but the mil­i­tants have car­ried out at­tacks there since then.

Le­banon-based Al-Mayadeen TV aired live footage from the western Gawsaq neigh­bor­hood, show­ing Iraqi troops in ar­mored ve­hi­cles and Humvees rolling through dusty streets as gun­fire rat­tled. Thick, black smoke could be seen bil­low­ing af­ter airstrikes.

Iraqi forces took Mo­sul’s in­ter­na­tional air­port and a sprawl­ing mil­i­tary base next to it last week be­fore push­ing into Ma­mun, the first neigh­bor­hood in the western half of the city af­ter the air­port.

Mo­sul’s western half is Iraq’s last sig­nif­i­cant ur­ban area held by the Is­lamic State ex­trem­ist group.

In Oc­to­ber, Iraq launched the op­er­a­tion to re­take Mo­sul, which fell to the Is­lamic State in the sum­mer of 2014, along with large swaths of north­ern and western Iraq.

AP/KHALID MO­HAMMED

Iraqi forces ad­vance dur­ing fight­ing against Is­lamic State mil­i­tants, in western Mo­sul, Iraq, on Mon­day. A se­nior Iraqi po­lice com­man­der said Mon­day that troops have taken con­trol of the western side of a key bridge in Mo­sul amid in­tense clashes with the Is­lamic State group.

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