by WorldTribune Staff, October 21, 2016
Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL) is using truck bombs, IEDs and snipers to wage a lethal defense of Mosul.
“They’re resisting strongly,” Iraqi special forces commander Col. Falah Fadel Jasem said on Oct. 20. “We saw the ISIL snipers and they’re not fleeing. They’re fighting.”
The United States suffered its first casualty in the battle for the ISIL stronghold on Oct. 20. The Pentagon said the soldier died of wounds sustained in an improvised explosive attack.
Analysts said the intensity of the fighting in the initial stages of the Iraqi offensive indicates that the terror organization is mounting a serious attempt to defend Mosul rather than opting to retreat and preserve some of its fighters for future battles.
Jasem said ISIL had used 15 suicide car or truck bombs against his forces on Oct. 20 alone. Two of the vehicles had been destroyed by airstrikes, the other 13 by the elite troops on the ground, he said. The Iraqi forces also encountered more than 50 IEDs, while a single sniper wounded four of his men, Jasem said.
“They’ve been planning for this war,” Jasem said.
Iraq’s military also faced significant resistance from ISIL south of Mosul, reports said. The army was hit with multiple car bombs in the town of Gwer. In the newly reclaimed village of Abbasi, ISIL managed to push the army back, before government troops retook it again.
“It won’t be easy,” said Lt. Tania Hassan, a platoon commander leading Kurdish forces in the Bashiqa area. “Every day is a trap. Everywhere there are IEDs.”