The Iraqi government isn’t relenting this time round in its fight against the so-called Islamic State. The Iraq troops have so far seized a number of villages as they advance deeper into the ISIS basements.
Early Sunday was rather a dramatic day in the East as hundreds of military vehicles, backed by air power, pushed further into the IS locations in the desert, reports CNN.
This Sunday achievement has allowed them to have an edge in combating the terrorist group that has claimed numerous attacks on city buildings and people’s gatherings.
But humanitarians have also raised concerns on how safe the trapped civilians can be. According to the UN, there are up to 650,000 trapped civilians. Residents on the west of the city woke to leaflet warning of an impending offensive. Charity Save the Children said on Sunday it believed that as many as 350,000 children were trapped.
Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi made a formal announcement of the offensive on Sunday morning hours.
The Prime Minister’s announcement was then support by a statement from Army Staff Lieutenant General Abdulamir Yarallah, who said that the country’s elite Rapid Response units have so far taken control of Athbah and Al-Lazzagah villages.
Late last month, the government regained control of eastern side of Mosul, one of the few remaining IS strongholds. However, the military officials report that the western side may be more challenging due to its narrow, winding streets.
As at the moment, there is no way for the IS to move past eastern Mosul because all bridges linking the city have been cut out.
Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, the commander of the US-led coalition forces, said in a statement on Sunday that any world military would find Mosul to be a tough fight.
The evading jihadists left behind primed car bombs which the Special Forces safely detonated. In addition to this, other discovered items include instant coffee, SIM cards, clothes and weapons.
According to BBC’s Quentin Sommerville, who is embedded with the troops, the assault was launched some few minutes past dawn. The attack is being led by Iraq’s Emergency Response Division, police Special Forces.
The government gain was rapid but their advancement was slowed down so they could retake villages. So far no civilians have been spotted while heavy machinery and rockets are constantly being used.
The south of western Mosul can now fly Iraqi flags after almost three years.
The US-led coalition is conducting airstrikes that target the IS basements as the Iraqi forces surround the western side of Mosul.
The forces have begun a new phase in their attacks and are gearing towards liberating Mosul.
“Our forces are beginning the liberation of the citizens from the terror of Daesh [IS],” said Mr Abadi.