Mosul: Iraqi forces on city’s doorstep

Story highlights

  • Iraqi PM vows to “cut head off snake” in ISIS battle
  • Counter-terrorism forces in last populated area before Mosul
The troops have taken full control of the industrial district within Gogjali and have completely surrounded the village. Gogjali is the last populated area before the outskirts of eastern Mosul. The plan is to “squeeze” ISIS fighters from different directions, commanders say.
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A coalition of around 100,000 Iraqi-led forces have made an aggressive advance toward Mosul since October 17 to end more than two years of the militant group’s brutal rule.
On Monday night, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi gave the estimated 5,000 ISIS militants holed up in the city a chilling warning as troops approached the city’s doorstep.
“There is no way to escape, either surrender or die,” he told a reporter for state-run Iraqiya TV at the Qayyara airbase south of the city.
We will “cut the head (off) the snake,” he said.
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Experts and officials have said that entering Mosul will likely trigger the fiercest fighting seen yet in the offensive, and that the battle is expected to be fought “street to street”, or even “house to house.”

Ready for a fight

Commander of Special Forces for Counter Terrorism Maj. Gen. Maan al- Saadi told CNN they were waiting for a more unified front before progressing into the city and that reinforcements for the offensive are coming from north- and south-east. Troops are now waiting for special forces to clear a main artery into the town, which will then facilitate the movement of reinforcements.
But ISIS is already showing it will put up a serious fight. In Gogjali, ISIS fighters sent four suicide car bombs and a tanker with explosives towards counter-terrorism forces — they were destroyed before reaching the troops.
A CNN team near Gogjali said they could see smoke rising on Mosul’s perimeter from oil trenches being set alight to obscure warplanes from striking ISIS targets and to deter troops from entering. Iraqi armored divisions and coalition warplanes have responded by striking ISIS positions inside the village.
ISIS is believed to have set up dozens of suicide truck and car bombs around Mosul, rigged bridges with explosives and moved in thousands of people, mostly women and children, to use as human shields for the battle.
ISIS also has sent more militants to shore up its defenses in the easternmost Mosul neighborhoods of al-Entisar and Karama, al- Saadi said.

Politics aside

Tensions inside Mosul appear to be flaring as troops get ever closer. Five ISIS officials, including the head of the city’s prisons, were shot dead by gunmen in a drive-by shooting near a market on Monday.
Prime Minister Abadi urged Mosul’s beleaguered residents, who have suffered under ISIS since June 2014, to stay indoors. He also said they should resist ISIS-propogated rumors, and do what they can to prevent ISIS from destroying the city’s infrastructure.
He added that, for the first time, Iraqi forces would be fighting side by side with Kurdish Peshmerga troops and urged politicians to “leave (their) political differences aside.”
The coalition of troops in the Mosul offensive is an extraordinary union of ethnic and religious groups that have long stood on opposing sides in Iraq’s history.
Iraqi families displaced by the ongoing operation to free Mosul are seen near Qayyarah, south of the city, on Saturday.
Among them are Kurdish groups, including the Peshmerga, and Shia and Christian paramilitary groups.
Battle for Mosul: How ISIS is fighting to keep its Iraqi stronghold
The battle for Mosul is seen as one of the most significant in the fight against ISIS. The city is the group’s Iraqi stronghold and is considered the jewel off the group’s envisaged caliphate, or its so-called Islamic State.

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