Iraqi forces launch offensive in west Mosul from north

Iraqi security forces on Thursday launched an assault in west Mosul from the north in a strategic shift to accelerate the offensive to free the city from the Islamic State.

Iraqi security forces launched an offensive on Thursday to capture west Mosul by coming from the north of areas held by the Islamic State. File Photo by Omar/al-Hayali
Iraqi security forces launched an offensive on Thursday to capture west Mosul by coming from the north of areas held by the Islamic State. File Photo by Omar/al-Hayali

Iraqi forces have so far captured a village and a gas factory in its assault made up of the Iraqi army’s 9th division, the Rapid Response Force and the Federal Police, which were moved from another combat assignment. Iraqi army commanders said there are 11 neighborhoods in west Mosul left to capture.

Iraqi officials said about 350,000 people are believed to have been trapped between the warring sides for about a month and a half as Iraq’s advance into Mosul’s more densely populated neighborhoods slowed.
Chief of Staff of the Iraqi Army Osman Ghanimi said the offensive to recapture west Mosul will be complete in about a month, Rudaw reported.

Iraqi officials said the battle for western Mosul is especially intense in Mosul’s Old City, where the Great Mosque of al-Nuri is located. Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is believed to have delivered a sermon from the mosque where he declared an Islamic State caliphate. Construction of the mosque was completed in the year 1172.

Iraq launched its military offensive to retake western Mosul from the Islamic State, also known as Daesh, ISIL and ISIS, on Feb. 19. The offensive to retake Mosul began Oct. 17, led by Iraqi security forces and aided by the Kurdish Peshmerga, a Shiite-led militia, and the U.S.-led international coalition. Iraq fully captured east Mosul in late January.

By Andrew V. Pestano