Daesh (or ISIS) terrorists launched a counter-attack against advancing Iraqi forces in western Mosul during an overnight rain storm. Explosions and gun fire rang out across the city’s southwestern districts in the early hours of Thursday. The fighting eased in the late morning, although a Reuters correspondent saw an air strike and rebel mortar fire. The Takfiri militants are using suicide car bombers, snipers and booby traps to counter the offensive waged by the 100,000-strong force of Iraqi troops, Kurdish Peshmarga fighters and Hashd al-Shaabi forces. Hundreds of women and children gathered in one abandoned bus station in the rain to receive food from the army and a local charity.
Iraqi forces seized a damaged Mosul bridge on Monday which could link up their units on either side of the Tigris river, as thousands of civilians fled the fighting for Islamic State’s remaining stronghold in the west of the city. U.S.-backed army and police units advanced through populated western districts, fighting tough street battles, and announced they had captured Mosul’s southernmost bridge. Once repaired, the bridge could help bring reinforcements and supplies from the eastern side, Major Ali Mohammed, Commander of First Regiment of Rapid Response Units, described the operation in al-Josaq: “We cleared al-Josaq district and we are close to the fourth bridge. The advance is ongoing, God willing. We killed snipers and you can see their bodies, this is the body of one of them”.
U.S.-backed Iraqi forces fought Islamic State fighters on Monday to clear the way to Mosul’s airport, on the second day of a ground offensive on the jihadists’ remaining stronghold in the western side of the city. ISIS militants are essentially under siege in western Mosul, along with an estimated 650,000 civilians, after they were forced out of the eastern part of the city while Iraqi forces have been advancing so far in sparsely populated areas. The fighting is expected to get tougher as they near the city and the risk greater for civilians. to 400,000 civilians could be displaced by the offensive as residents of western Mosul suffer food and fuel shortages and markets are closed, United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq Lise Grande told Reuters on Saturday.
Coalition forces carried out 40 air strikes against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, the Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve (CJTF-OIR) have said on Sunday. The air strikes engaged 12 ISIS tactical units, destroyed five vehicles, five fighting positions, a communications tower and stations, four oil storage tanks, eight oil well heads, an oil refinement still and an oil pump jack while other jets launched 26 air raids against ISIS targets near Abu Kamal, al-Bab, Raqqa and Deirez-Zor in Syria.Nine air raids near Mosul destroyed four ISIS headquarters, four watercraft, three command and control nodes and an ISIS support facility. They also damaged nine supply routes and three tunnels.
Iraqi forces, having gained control of the eastern half of Mosul in January, are now ready to launch the next phase of the offensive to liberate western Mosul from Islamic State militants.
The commander Abdulghani Asadi said during a press conference on Sunday that logistic and military preparations have been finished in order to start the liberation.
“We are waiting for zero hour by commander in chief of Iraqi Armed Forces,” the counter-terrorism service’s commander added. “The control of western Mosul will be in a way which cannot be expected”.