Over 10000 civilians flee as Iraqi forces push deeper into west Mosul
- Author: Salvatore Jensen Mar 02, 2017,
Mar 02, 2017, 16:25
Meanwhile, ISIS supreme leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has delivered a speech ordering his fighters to flee urban areas in Mosul, in apparent admission of defeat to USA -backed Iraqi forces besieging the city, Iraqi News reported on Wednesday.
Iraqi security forces surrounded Mosul's Southern district of Wadi al-Hajar from South and Southwest, and began advancing toward the ISIS lines to eventually liberate this part of the Northern city from the terror group.
He said his forces were combing the al-Ghazalani, al-Jawasq and al-Tayaran neighborhoods in search of fighters, improvised explosive devices and booby traps.
Iraq on February 19 launched its military offensive to retake western Mosul.
While all five bridges linking the government-held eastern Mosul to the western part have been destroyed, the takeover of the fourth bridge will allow Iraqi forces to lay a ramp over the broken part and open a supply route from the east.
US-backed troops launched their offensive to recapture western Mosul last month after taking back the eastern side in January.
The west bank of Mosul includes the Old City, where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his only public appearance in July 2014 and proclaimed a "caliphate" straddling Iraq and Syria.
Inside western Mosul on Wednesday, officers from the federal police Rapid Response Force were said to be approaching the city's government buildings.
"We had an important operation this morning to move towards the bridge", Colonel Falah al-Wabdan of the interior ministry's Rapid Response units that have spearheaded the breach into west Mosul told AFP in the Jawsaq neighborhood.
Iraqi commanders told Rudaw it is evidence of ISIS using the base to train foreign fighters, children and teens to fight and commit suicide bombings.
United Nations estimated that about 750,000 to 800,000 people still live in the western side of Mosul, which could be a challenge to the Iraqi forces as the troops enter the city's narrow streets in the densely populated neighbourhoods. The offensive to retake Mosul began on October 17, led by Iraqi security forces and aided by the Kurdish Peshmerga, a Shiite-led militia, and the USA -led worldwide coalition.
All of Mosul's bridges spanning the Tigris River and connecting the western part of the city, still held by the Islamic State group, with its eastern sector, were disabled by airstrikes previous year.