Iraqi special forces enter Mosul city limits in Islamic State fight

MOSUL, Iraq, – Iraqi security forces on Tuesday for the first time entered Mosul’s city limits, where they encountered fierce opposition from the Islamic State, officials said.

On Tuesday, Iraqi forces entered Mosul’s city limits for the first time since the ground offensive against the Islamic State began two weeks ago. In this image, an Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighter watches from a position as smoke billows in the distance as forces deploy in the area in Mount Zardak, near east Mosul, as they take part in an operation against the Islamic State October 17. File Photo by Shvan Harki/UPI | License Photo

Iraq’s counter-terrorism service reached Gogjali in east Mosul and were subsequently targeted with IS rocket-propelled grenades, sniper fire, small arms fire and car bombs.

Gogjali is about 4 miles away from Mosul’s city center. Some civilians, including farmers with livestock, fled Gogjali on Tuesday after being under siege for days, Rudaw reported.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Tuesday said Iraqi forces would come from all angles to “cut off the head of the snake,” adding that IS militants defending Mosul have the choice to “surrender or die.”

Iraqi security forces, with the aid of the Kurdish Peshmerga and a U.S.-led international anti-Islamic State coalition, on Oct. 17 began a ground offensive to recapture Mosul away from IS control. On Tuesday, a U.S. official said the coalition — named the Combined Joint Task Force: Operation Inherent Resolve — has dropped 3,000 bombs and rockets since the start of the offensive.

Sunni and Shiite tribal militants have also joined the offensive to oust the Islamic State, which captured the city in 2014. Mosul is considered one of the most important battles in the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq, as it is considered the militant Islamist group’s last major stronghold in the country.

By Andrew V. Pestano