“At hour 06:00 forces of the army ‘s 9th Division and the 73rd Brigade of the 5th Division and forces of the federal police including the Rapid Response units attacked neighborhoods of Mshirfa, al-Kanisa and al-Haramat neighborhoods north of the right side of the city of Mosul”, the military statement read. “Your sons are now fighting to break defenses of the enemy and destroy its capabilities and they are ready to embrace either victory or martyrdom to liberate what has been remained of the Mosul city from the terrorist Daesh”, the statement continued using an Arabic acronym for ISIS. The attack would help the elite Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) and Interior Ministry Federal Police troops who were painstakingly advancing from the south, a military commander told Reuters. The militants are now besieged in the north-western corner of Mosul which includes the historic Old City centre and the Grand al-Nuri Mosque-from which ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a “caliphate” in 2014. Heavy sustained gunfire has been a constant in the Old City area for days, where militants are hiding among residents and using the alleyways, traditional family homes and snaking narrow roads to their advantage. Tens of thousands of Mosul residents are trapped inside homes, caught in the fighting, shelling and air strikes as Iraqi forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition advance in the west. The United Nations believes up to half a million people remain in the area, 400,000 of whom are in the Old City with little food, water and medicine
The number of people displaced from the western side of Mosul has reached up to 281,000 since operations were launched in February to retake that region from Islamic State militants, according to the Iraqi government. The Iraqi Ministry of Migration and Displacement said in a statement on Monday that the “Number of the displaced civilians from western Mosul went up to 281,630 persons, and those were distributed among the ministry camps in the south and east of the city”. “The ministry teams received today 6,855 displaced persons from the west of Nineveh. They were provided shelter at camps of al-Narkezliya, al-Jadaa, al-Haj Ali, al-Madraj, al-Khazer, Hassan Sham and Jamkour”, it added.The statement also indicated that “the ministry provided all essential needs of food and medical requirements at stores, in case more families were displaced from western Mosul”.
Abadi’s remarks followed his first face-to-face meeting at the White House with Trump, who took office on Jan. 20 pledging a new strategy to defeat the hardline militant group that seized large swaths of Iraq and Syria in 2014. Even before Trump took office, Iraqi forces recaptured a string of major cities from Islamic State, shrank the militant group’s finances and significantly stemmed the flow of foreign fighters, all with the support of U.S.-led coalition air strikes and military advisers. A White House statement about the meeting said both Trump and Abadi agreed that “terrorism cannot be defeated by military might alone”, and the two leaders called for deepening commercial ties, including in the energy sector. At the forum, Abadi called for more financial contributions from the international community. Abadi is in Washington this week ahead of a gathering of world leaders of a coalition fighting Islamic State. In many ways, his visit comes at a high point for him after successfully appealing to Trump to remove Iraq from a list of countries included in a revamped travel ban. Trump decided this month’s revised order temporarily banning the entry of travelers from several Muslim-majority nations would not include Iraq because of its cooperation with the United States. Both the initial Jan. 27 travel ban and the revised version have been blocked by federal courts. Detractors argue the ban discriminated against Muslims in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s guarantee of religious freedom. Trump says the measure is necessary for national security to protect the country from terrorist attacks.
The U.S.-led Coalition said Islamic State (ISIS) militants are now completely surrounded in Mosul by Iraqi security forces. Dorrian added that 60 percent of the territories that ISIS once controlled in Iraq have now been recaptured due to the cooperation between the Peshmerga and Iraqi security forces who, he said, are fighting bravely. He also said that Iraqi forces had now liberated 17 areas of western Mosul.
Pushing deeper into the key battleground, artilleries pounded areas in Dawas and Nabi Sheet, southwest of Mosul as federal police and the Ministry of Interior’s Rapid Response Units prepared to advance. Their operation to retake the eastern bank of the city, launched in mid-October with support from a U.S.-led coalition, took more than three months; civilians continued to flee in greater number as the fighting approached the densely populated old city, causing alarm at the camps for displaced people which are nearly full.
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”.