The Iraqi military is believed to be rallying to make another push in their bid to liberate of Mosul, the second largest city in Iraq from the Islamic State militants, who had ransacked and laid siege to the city in 2014 when Iraqi soldiers, trained and raised with billions of dollars of American taxpayer money had abandoned their posts and fled leaving behind their weapons and equipment in the face of ISIL aggression.
Mosul, last major stronghold of ISIL in Iraq
The Islamic State after its initial successes has had to make major concessions to the Iraqi army ably assisted by the Kurdish Pesh Merga fighters. The US led coalition have undertaken massive airstrikes and bombing operations that have made it possible for the ground forces to break down the resistance of ISIL fighter. They have taken down a number of top leaders of the terrorist group and have also destroyed channels of revenue for them that were used to fund the purchase of weapons for the ISIL fighters.
It has now been confirmed by BBC and other major news media that Iraqi and the allied forces have now reached within 1.5km of the city’s eastern outskirts and would storm the city any moment now in a massive assault. However, it has also been reported that Islamic State fighters are creating smoke screens by burning oil and tires so that their movements can’t be tracked by the US led air fighters for precise hits. The forces are also wary of suicide bombers who could be hiding in the city and hence is taking its time to make a full-proof plan that would reduce chances of casualties of its members and the civilians in the area, while also forcing the terrorists to move back or surrender.
The forces are planning to create an impenetrable wall by attacking the city from all sides. Hence, even as the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) troops sealed the eastern borders, the ninth division of the Iraqi army is advancing from the southern side. Earlier, a massive assault was made on Bazwaya, about 1.9 miles from Mosul as the ground forces advances in armored humvees, bulldozers and tanks and were supported by US-led Coalition airstrikes.
Iraq warns Turkey against desecrating its sovereignty
Turkey, which also claims ownership of Mosul and has been supporting and training the Pesh Merga militia fighters, has also stationed its forces in a base on the northeast side of Mosul. It has claimed to have shelled certain ISIL installations within the city independently. Iraq has cried foul and has asked Turkey to desist from entering the land of a sovereign country or face consequences.
It would be interesting to see how long ISIL can hold on to the city and what its next reaction would be. Meanwhile, the US-led coalition has informed the media that it had carried out six airstrikes near Mosul on Sunday, taking out rocket launchers, artillery, mortar launchers as well as destroying tunnels. It has also destroyed 19 fighting positions and 17 enemy vehicles.