#MosulOp: Fighting intensifies on third day

#MosulOp: Fighting intensifies on third day
Iraqi forces make some progress on the eastern front in their battle to capture Mosul from Islamic State militants, who have hit back with suicide car bomb attacks.
3 min read
19 October, 2016
US and Iraqi aircrafts intensified air raids and heavy artillery bombing [AFP]
The crucial battle for Mosul entered its third day on Wednesday as Iraqi forces pushed on the eastern front of the city, capturing the towns in the outskirts of Hamdaniya district from Islamic State [IS] group militants.

US and Iraqi aircrafts intensified air raids and heavy artillery bombing, hitting over 40 IS targets on outskirts of the city.

Iraqi commanders said the militants were hitting back with suicide car bomb attacks but that the offensive was going as planned.

Advancing in armoured convoys across the dusty plains surrounding Mosul, forces moved into villages defended by pockets of IS fighters after intensive aerial bombardment.

Despite resistance from IS fighters, the operation to recapture the militant's last stronghold in Iraq is making progress, a senior commander in the Iraqi forces told The New Arab.

"Intensified fighting in the last few hours allowed the army to gain new positions from IS militants," he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity.   

We expect to announce the liberation of many towns and villages on the east of the city by the end of this week, he added.

[Click to enlarge]

Iraqi forces also entered the Christian town of Qaraqosh, which IS militants captured in August 2014.

The town was still to be fully retaken but displaced Christians in the Kurdish capital of Erbil held prayers and then celebrated outside a church late Tuesday.

"We have been through a lot of suffering and today we are looking forward to returning to our region as soon as possible," said Hazem Djedjou Cardomi, as a crowd of hundreds around him danced and sang.

Iraqi forces have significant ground to cover before reaching the boundaries of the city, which IS is defending with berms, bombs and burning oil trenches.

IS forces are vastly outnumbered, with the US military estimating 3,000 to 4,500 militants in and around Mosul.

A video released on Tuesday by the IS-linked Amaq news agency showed masked fighters in battledress patrolling a deserted, dimly lit thoroughfare in what it said was Mosul. 

"America will be defeated in Iraq and will leave, God willing, again - humiliated, wretched, dragging its tail in defeat," one of the fighters said to camera.

The long-awaited Mosul offensive was launched on Monday, with some 30,000 federal forces leading Iraq's largest military operation since the 2011 withdrawal of US troops.

Retaking Mosul would deprive IS of its last major Iraqi city, dealing a fatal blow to the "caliphate" the militants declared two years ago after seizing large parts of Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

But the operation could take months, according to a US general quoted earlier in The Guardian.