House-to-house fighting in new Iraqi offensive on west Mosul

House-to-house fighting in new Iraqi offensive on west Mosul
Some of the fiercest fighting in weeks is taking place in west Mosul, as IS defenders put up still resistance against a new Iraqi army assault.
2 min read
05 March, 2017
Iraqi troops are pushing into well-defended districts held by IS militants [Getty]

Iraqi forces have launched a new offensive against four Islamic State group districts in west Mosul on Sunday with house-to-house urban fighting taking place in the city.

The latest offensive has seen some of the fiercest fighting since the campaign to take west Mosul began, with pro-Baghdad forces heading for government complexes half a kilometre away.

They have faced stern resistance from IS defenders with troops destroying six suicide car bombs before they exploded.

Black smoke was seen billowing over the west of the city, as militarised police units swept the west bank of the Tigris River.

"Federal police and Rapid Response Division forces are attacking al-Dindan and al-Dawasa neighbourhoods," Iraq's Joint Operations Command (JOC) said.

"Counter-Terrorism Service forces are attacking al-Sumood and Tal al-Ruman neighbourhoods, and the advance is still ongoing," the JOC said.

The Counter-Terrorism Service and Rapid Response are two special forces units that have spearheaded operations in the Mosul area, while the federal police are a paramilitary police unit.

The army launched an offensive to retake west Mosul on 19 February but bad weather has slowed the progress of Iraqi troops in recent days.

In its latest push Iraqi forces captured an IS media centre in a residential area of west Mosul, but only after the militants set light to the building before fleeing the area.

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"The neighbours told us that they produced their adverts here," said Lieutenant Colonel Abdulamir al-Mohammedawi, of the interior ministry’s elite Rapid Response Division.

"And after we came in and examined it completely, we discovered that it was a media centre that broadcast al-Bayan radio station."

Thousands fled the fighting last night, bringing a total of 45,000 people who have risked their lives to leave west Mosul since the operation began to retake it.

Around 750,000 are still believed to be trapped in west Mosul, one of the most densely packed areas under IS control.

This presents a challenging environment for Iraqi forces who will have to fight IS in well-defended, densely packed and narrow streets to retake west Mosul.

Agencies contributed to this story.