Tabnak - Month after the start of Mosul operation, the Iraqi forces are continuing their advances in western parts of the city against ISIS terrorists. The latest news indicates that the forces are now close to a symbolic mosque in the city, regarded as the headquarters of ISIS’ self-declared Caliphate.
French news agency "AFP” reported Sunday morning that the Iraqi forces have been successful in recapturing new parts of the old district of western Mosul. According to the Iraqi sources, two bazaars and one Mosque have been recaptured in the latest phase of the operation.
The field reports indicate that the Iraqi forces are now just 800 meters away from the famous "Al-Nouri” mosque, in which ISIS Leader Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi declared his Caliphate in 2014. In the view of the Iraqi government, recapturing the mosque is of a symbolic importance.
US officials declared while ago that al-Baghdadi was still alive, but most probably had lost his tactical influence on how to continue the fight against Iraqi forces and left Mosul because of the pressure of anti-ISIS military strikes.
Now, it is said that the Iraqi forces are prepared for street fighting. The old district of western Mosul has narrow alleys and tiny houses, which make the operation harder. Those alleys are very narrow to allow the passage of heavy armed vehicles and the Iraqi forces should fight ISIS in a house-to-house and street-to-street way.
A week ago, the Iraqi security forces regained the control of the most important train station in Mosul from the terrorists. During the operation heavy amount of explosives found and defused which was planted by the terrorists all around the station.
The battle for the Mosul’s Old City was always expected to be the toughest of the campaign to retake Mosul from ISIS, further complicated by the presence of hundreds of thousands of civilians believed to have stayed on under terrorists rule.
Iraqi forces in January retook the east of the city, which is divided by the Tigris River, before setting their sights on its smaller but more densely populated west bank. The Old City lies at the heart of west Mosul.
Emily Anagnostos, an analyst from the Institute for the Study of War think tank, said to AFP that the current phase of the operation was a delicate one. "This stage is the hump of western operations that the ISF (Iraqi security forces) needs to get over without incurring significant ISF or civilian casualties," she said.
At the same time, nearly 100,000 Iraqis have fled western Mosul over the past three weeks, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Wednesday. This has caused the humanitarian aspect of the story to become one of the most concerning parts of the operation.