Islamic State launches counter-offensive south of Mosul

BAGHDAD, The Islamic State launched a counter-attack Saturday in the outskirts of Mosul, pushing Iraqi government forces back from some of the gains they reported Friday.

islamic-state-launches-counter-offensive-south-of-mosul
Iraqi security forces take part in an operation against Islamic State (militants in Hammam Al-Alil, a town, south of Mosul, Iraq, on Saturday. A counter-offensive by Islamic State fighters pushed Iraqi forces back from some parts south of Mosul that had retaken on Friday. Photo courtesy STR/EPA

Islamic State fighters emerged from deeper within the embattled city and launched a fierce attack on Iraqi forces using mortars, shoulder-mounted missiles and suicide bombers in vehicles masquerading as civilians fleeing the bloodshed. The heaviest fighting was in the Gogjali district on the city’s southern edge, an area the Iraqi military declared “liberated” on Friday.

Al Jazeera reported some of that district was taken back by IS fighters, nullifying some of the headway Iraqi fighters have made in taking back the Islamic State’s last major stronghold in the country.

The two sides engaged in a protracted sniper battle in one residential neighborhood, with each side taking up posts on rooftops.

Government troops are still more than 20 miles from central Mosul and progress in the fight has slowed as they inch closer to their target.

In other news, the BBC reported 17 civilians and a police officer were also killed when a car bomb exploded outside Hawija, another northern Iraqi town held Islamic State. Witnesses said several families were riding in vehicles when they were hit by a car bomb.

By Eric DuVall