Iraqi Forces Reportedly Enter Western Mosul

Posted February 25, 2017

Iraq's Joint Operations Command said in a separate statement that the F16 fighter jets destroyed Daesh positions and headquarters in Hosaiba and Albu Kamal on Friday morning. Along with reports out of Iraq that Iraqi forces have seized the airport in the city of Mosul, Syrian rebels say they've wrested back the city of al-Bab from ISIS, which had held the area for three years.

On Dec. 26, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend issued a tactical directive sending more coalition troops away from the safety of their outposts, deeper into Mosul and closer to front lines to work side by side with their Iraqi counterparts.

Iraqi military forces have regained control of Mosul airport, as part of their months-long operation to oust Isis from the country's second largest city. "We will eliminate them soon and take control over the two districts", Counter Terrorism Services (CTS) spokesman Sabah al-Numan said.

During it's rise Isis made gains in both Syria and Iraq, with the jihadists' de-facto capital of Raqqa in Syria the other major urban target for anti-Isis forces.

It is unclear if the change will help reduce civilian casualties in the fight to retake Mosul.

There are about 750,000 civilians still trapped in Mosul, which ISIS has held since it seized the city in a lightning raid in the summer of 2014, when the USA -trained Iraqi army essentially melted away and many Sunni civilians backed the invaders over the mostly Shiite government force. According to General Joseph Votel, the head of the United States Central Command, around 500 Iraqi military personnel died in the offensive, and another 3,000 were injured.

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Secretary of Defense James Mattis reportedly suggested restrictions on USA advisers may be further loosened as he prepares to present his counter-ISIS plan to President Donald Trump next week.

After forcing ISIS from eastern Mosul in January, coalition forces started their campaign to free the rest of the city on Sunday.

He told AFP near the front line that IS militants attacked his forces with a suicide vehicle bomb in Tal al-Rayyan, a village just outside Mosul, and that three other auto bombs were found there. He said the Iraqis have advanced further than where coalition planners thought they would be by the end of the first day of fighting.

During a recent attack inside Mosul, soldiers suddenly stopped their patrols on a quiet residential street and began shooting towards the sky rapidly to shoot down a hovering Isis drone that was ready to drop its explosives upon them, causing carnage.

The presence of up to 750,000 civilians will also pose a challenge.