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Iraq forces launch new assault on Daesh in Mosul

By AFP - Dec 29,2016 - Last updated at Dec 29,2016

A member of Hashid Shaabi or Popular Mobilisation Forces fires towards Daesh positions in west of Mosul, Iraq, on Thursday (Reuters photo)

BAGHDAD — Iraqi forces advanced Thursday after declaring a new phase in their offensive on eastern Mosul, stepping up efforts to reclaim the Daesh terror group's last major stronghold in the country.

Elite forces have reconquered several parts of eastern Mosul since beginning the massive operation to recapture the northern city from the fighters on October 17, but Daesh still occupies the city's west.

Security chiefs said several neighbourhoods had been taken, with the bodies of Daesh militants seen lying on the streets and drone footage showing others retreating.

Retaking Mosul could effectively end the fighters’ days as a land-holding force in Iraq and deal a death blow to the "caliphate" Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi proclaimed in the city in June 2014.

"The second phase of liberating the left bank in Mosul was launched, and our forces began advancing towards Al Quds neighbourhood," said Staff Lieutenant General Abdulghani Al Assadi, a senior officer in Iraq's Counter-Terrorism Service. 

"Our forces clashed with the enemy and there is resistance," he told AFP, adding forces on the northern and southern fronts were also advancing.

Mosul, now the last Iraqi city in which Daesh still holds significant territory, is split by the Tigris River, with the east side referred to as the left bank and the west as the right.

Iraq’s federal police commander, Raed Shaker Jawdat, said “the enemy’s line of defence has fallen back” inside the city.

“The streets of Al Salam, Al Intisar, Al Wahda, Al Falestin and Al Quds neighbourhoods are strewn with the bodies of Daesh fighters,” he said.

Police had also entered deep into the district of Jadida Al Mufti.

The commanding chief of the offensive, Staff Lieutenant General Abdulamir Yarallah, late Thursday announced “the liberation of Al Quds 1 district”.

 

Daesh retreating west 

 

The commander said police drones had spotted Daesh fighters retreating to the city’s western side via a pedestrian bridge badly damaged in the fighting.

Centcom, the US military command in the Middle East, said the US-led coalition fighting Daesh had disabled “the last bridge crossing the Tigris River inside Mosul” this week at the Iraqi government’s request.

A Mosul inhabitant who requested anonymity reported hearing many explosions and said residents were holed up indoors.

The new push in the battle for Mosul comes after progress slowed to a crawl in the past few weeks.

After two months of fighting, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi last week said the army had decided to review battle plans and pause to reduce losses.

The fighting has been all the more devastating as it has been happening in a city amid civilians.

 

Daesh has targeted the army with car bombs on at least 900 occasions in the streets of Mosul since October 17, according to Abadi.

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