Iraqi Forces Advance In Western Mosul Amid Fierce Resistance From IS

Daesh, which is now on the defensive after losing control of eastern Mosul in Iraq to a USA and Iran-backed Iraqi military offensive, has claimed responsibility for several vehicle bombs in Baghdad in the capital in the past few weeks. The Iraqi Prime Minister said they will attack ISIS militants "everywhere".

Government forces entered the airport on the southern edge of the city for the first time since the Islamic State group overran the region in 2014, Iraqi News reports, citing state TV. Hundreds of civilians poured out of Mosul on foot following the advances, but the vast majority of 750,000 estimated to still be in the city's west remain trapped, and describe deteriorating humanitarian and security conditions.

However, another source within the Iraqi forces was less confident, saying that they had control of most of Mosul airport and the sprawling military base nearby.

Among the people treated at the CTS clinic was a little girl with a blood on her face and a woman with shrapnel in her hand, lying immobile, apparently unconscious.

Meanwhile, aid agencies are preparing for the possibility that up to 250,000 people might flee Mosul in the coming days or weeks.

The United Nations says up to 400,000 people may have to leave their homes during the new offensive as food and fuel runs out in western Mosul. The rest stood on the open bed, held on to the truck from outside, or sat on top of the cabin. "The women had to cover even their eyes, it was forbidden even for their eyes to appear", said 20-year-old Othman Raad outside his home in Jawsaq. IS continued to fire mortars at the airport from further inside the city after losing the ground to the army. US personnel are operating close to the frontlines to direct air strikes. The U.S. commander in Iraq has said he believes U.S. -backed forces will recapture both Mosul and Raqqa - Islamic State's Syria stronghold - within six months.

"Right now we're heading towards the Mosul governorate building, we're now about one kilometer (less than a mile) from the fourth bridge", the city's southernmost bridge across the Tigris River, Lieutenant Colonel Abdulamir al-Mohammadawi told AFP on the front line.

As the latest offensive unfolded, Iraqi expert Houchang Hassan-Yari of the Royal Military College of Canada warned VOA's Persian service that the density of the civilian population in western Mosul would slow the government advance.

Major General Thamir Ahmed added that the terrorists fought back with snipers, anti-tank missiles and auto bombs. In December 2016, Baghdad launched a campaign to retake the city, and mobilised a 100,000-strong force of the national army, regional Kurdish peshmerga fighters and Iranian-trained Shia Muslim paramilitary groups.

  • Leroy Wright