Mosul – Iraqi forces captured the second of Mosul’s five bridges on Monday, giving a boost to their onslaught on ISIS remaining stronghold in the western part of the city.
All of Mosul’s five bridges have been destroyed but the capture of the remaining parts on the West bank of the Tigris facilitates the movement of forces progressing up the river that cuts Mosul in two.
The bridge seized, al-Hurriya, is the second after one located further south. Its capture shields the back of the forces advancing toward a nearby complex of government buildings.
“In the coming hours our forces will raise the Iraqi flag over the governorate building,” Federal Police Brigadier General Shaalan Ali Saleh told Reuters.
“We control the western end of the bridge,” said a media officer with Rapid Response, the elite unit of the Interior Ministry leading the charge toward the complex.
Recapturing the area would help Iraqi forces attack the militants in the old city and mark a symbolic step toward restoring state authority over Mosul, even though the buildings are destroyed and not being used by ISIS.
The militants have barricaded streets with civilian vehicles and rigged them with explosives to hinder the advance of Iraqi forces that were also met with sniper, machinegun and mortar fire, as well as explosives dropped from drones.
The Iraqi military believes several thousand militants are among the remaining civilian population, which aid agencies estimated to number 750,000 civilians at the start of the latest offensive.
Lined up against the militants in Mosul is a 100,000-strong force of Iraqi troops, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and factions of Popular Mobilization Forces.