Iraqi forces in IS bat­tle raise flag over Mo­sul Uni­ver­sity

The Hazleton Standard-Speaker - - WORLD -

MO­SUL, Iraq — Iraqi spe­cial forces raised the Iraqi flag above build­ings within the Mo­sul Uni­ver­sity com­plex Fri­day as they bat­tled Is­lamic State mil­i­tants for con­trol of the city, ac­cord­ing to se­nior Iraqi of­fi­cers and the U.S.-led coali­tion.

The troops en­tered the uni­ver­sity grounds in the morn­ing hours and by af­ter­noon they had taken con­trol of a neigh­bor­hood on the north­east­ern edge of the uni­ver­sity com­pound and the tech­ni­cal in­sti­tute within the cam­pus, ac­cord­ing to spe­cial forces Brig. Gen. Haider Fad­hil and Maj. Gen. Sami al-Aridi.

By evening, Iraqi forces had also taken con­trol of the Nin­eveh gov­er­norate and coun­cil build­ings, ac­cord­ing to a state­ment from the U.S.-led coali­tion.

“Work still needs to be done but ISIL’s days in Mo­sul are quickly com­ing to an end,” said U.S. army Col. John Dor­rian, a spokesman for the U.S.-led anti-IS coali­tion, us­ing an al­ter­na­tive acro­nym for the Is­lamic State group.

Al-Aridi, who was over­see­ing the as­sault Fri­day, said, “We broke through the ter­ror­ists’ de­fenses and we de­stroyed their lines and their units and their bases.”

The uni­ver­sity is lo­cated in the eastern sec­tion of Mo­sul, Iraq’s sec­ond-largest city which is di­vided by the Ti­gris River into roughly an eastern and a west­ern half.

Sgt. Saad Jabar said that over the past two years since IS seized Mo­sul in a 2014 blitz that cap­tured much of north­ern and west­ern Iraq, the mil­i­tants have had time to pre­pare for an as­sault by Iraqi forces, build­ing tun­nels and get­aways across the city, in­clud­ing on the uni­ver­sity grounds.

“They had re­in­forced their po­si­tions and had plans. They knew where to come in and where to get out,” Jabar said.

The push into Mo­sul Uni­ver­sity came a day af­ter Iraqi army forces north of the city linked up with troops push­ing in from the city’s eastern edge. Iraqi forces have largely sur­rounded Mo­sul, but the most sig­nif­i­cant ad­vances on the city have come from the eastern front and in the eastern half of the city. IS still con­trols Mo­sul’s west.

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