Iraqi forces are gearing up for a three-pronged attacked against Daesh terrorists in the city of Mosul following a two-week lull in their anti-terror operations, says a high-ranking Iraqi commander.
The commander of Iraq’s counterterrorism forces in eastern Mosul, Lieutenant General Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi, made the announcement in an interview published by the Associated Press on Wednesday.
He noted that federal police units have joined units from the military’s 9th Division located to the southeast of Mosul and that forces have taken positions alongside units from the army’s 16th Division on city’s northern side.
Saadi refrained from giving the exact date for the advance but noted that it would begin over the next few days if weather conditions are suitable.
Since the operations to retake the city began, the counterterrorism forces have liberated a large number of neighborhoods in eastern Mosul and have reached within less than three kilometers of the Tigris River, which divides the city into two main parts.
The Iraqi commander noted that since the beginning of the operations, the terrorists have launched over 900 car bombings, 260 of which targeted his men.
“Daesh has by now realized that the battle is in the eastern sector of Mosul, and that’s where most of its forces are,” he added.
He went on to deny reports that the lull in the anti-terror operations was caused by a high number of casualties among his men.
“We have sustained casualties, but not much,” he said, noting that the operations had slowed down to permit the arrival of reinforcement.
Saadi also went on to explain that the large number of civilians renaming in the city was the reason for the operation’s slow progress.
“Daesh snipers shoot at us from the rooftops of homes occupied by families. We can only use light arms against them so as not to hurt the civilians,” he added. “They fire from side streets lined by homes. Again, we can only use light arms.”
On October 17, Iraqi army troops and allied fighters launched a long-awaited offensive to retake the northern Iraqi city of Mosul that fell to Daesh in 2014.
Defeating Daesh in Mosul would be a crushing blow to the Takfiri group that began its campaign of terror in northern and western Iraq more than two years ago.
On Tuesday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said that the Iraqi forces needed three months to completely destroy Daesh.