ISLAMIC STATE RESISTANCE IN MOSUL
The battle to retake the Iraqi city of Mosul, in its third day Wednesday, is proceeding methodically and is expected to face tough resistance from the insurgents once Iraqi forces reach the city itself in the coming days, Pentagon officials said.
“The initial operation, the movement has gone pretty well,” Army Maj. Gen. Gary J. Volesky, commander of allied forces in Iraq, told reporters. “The Iraqis are ahead of where I thought they would be when this operation started. They continue to move and continue to liberate villages. I think the last count yesterday was 13, and they continue to move toward Mosul.”
Among the major dangers facing Iraqi army troops are new types of improvised bombs and an extensive network of underground facilities that include sleeping and eating quarters and hidden arms and ammunition caches.
The 3,000 to 5,000 Islamic State fighters in and around the city of 1 million are “literally like rats,” said a military officer familiar with reports from Iraq who described the tunnels as similar to a sewer system. “The underground piece [of the operation] is going to be a significant challenge.”
Over the past several days, Islamic State fighters have set off at least six large vehicle bombs against advancing Iraqi forces and Kurdish militias located south, northwest and east of the city. In the past, the terrorists used the car bombs offensively. But in a shift, Islamic State fighters have started using vehicle bombs defensively — to slow the advance of Iraqi forces and buy time for retreat.
Fighting inside the city is expected to be difficult because the terrorists have had two years to prepare defenses against the Iraqi ground assault backed by U.S.-led airstrikes.
U.S. officials outlined several types of defenses that Islamic State fighters are using, including house-borne improvised explosive devices — residences wired with booby traps to use against Iraqi troops as they conduct house-to-house operations. Sniper positions also have been built to slow the Iraqi operations.
The Islamic State terrorists also have what chemical weapons officials describe as a rudimentary form of mustard. The sulfur mustard is in powder form and can be loaded into artillery shells and detonated. The
While Defense Secretary Ashton Carter prepared for his trip to Turkey, a senior Iraqi general on Wednesday called on Iraqis fighting for the Islamic State to surrender as a wide-scale operation to retake Mosul entered its third day.