Iraqi army pushing into last ISIS-held areas of Mosul

by WorldTribune Staff, May 11, 2017

After recent gains in Mosul’s north, Iraqi government forces are squeezing Islamic State (ISIS) into an ever smaller area and hope to liberate the city “within days,” reports said.

Iraqi Lt. Gen. Othman al-Ghanimi told the BBC he hoped ISIS would be defeated in Mosul before the Islamic holy month of Ramadan begins on May 26.

The Iraqi army’s 9th Armored Division and the Rapid Response units of the Interior Ministry opened a new front in the northwest of Mosul earlier this month. /AFP

More than 22,000 people have fled Mosul since the U.S.-backed Iraqi forces opened a new front in the northwest of the city on May 4, the United Nations said on May 10, citing Iraqi government figures.

ISIS is now besieged in the northwestern corner of the city, which includes the historic Old City center, the medieval Grand al-Nuri Mosque, and its landmark leaning minaret where the terror group’s black flag has been flying since June 2014.

Pro-government forces launched a major offensive to retake the city in October with the support of U.S.-led coalition airstrikes. They managed to take full control of the eastern half of Mosul in January and started an assault on the west the following month.

According to a Reuters report, ISIS jihadists are shooting people who try to escape, although some men have been allowed to leave in exchange for taking jihadists’ families with them, said 40-year-old Umm Abdul Rahman, who fled the Musherfa district on May 9.

“There is no water, no food. The bombardment is continuous,” she said, and the jihadists were setting civilian cars and trucks on fire to create smokescreens.

People are surviving on ground wheat boiled in water, 31-year-old Qatra al-Nada Abdullah said, because ISIS fighters were keeping any food or water that is left for themselves.

Defeat in Mosul would leave ISIS without a major stronghold in Iraq. It still controls large swathes of Syria and some territory in Iraq near the Syrian border.