Kirkuk – Iraqi military officers gave conflicting statements on Monday on the battle of Mosul as one confirmed the Iraqi forces entered the city, while the other denied.
Iraqi troops entered the Karama district of the ISIS stronghold of Mosul on Monday, their first advance into the city itself after two weeks of fighting in the surrounding area to dislodge the militants, an officer said.
Commander of U.S.-trained Counter Terrorism Service told Reuters that forces entered the left neighborhood of Mosul and are close to the city center.
“They have entered Mosul. They are fighting now in al-Karama district,” the commander said.
Yet, Lieutenant General Abdul Wahhab al-Saidi denied that troops had entered Karama, but he did say that they were moving on Kukjali, an industrial zone west of Bazwaya that lies about 1km from Mosul’s municipal boundary.
The counter-terrorism unit resumed the offensive on the eastern front on Monday. It had paused its advance last week after it made gains quicker than forces on other fronts, to allow them to close the gap and get nearer to the city.
According to a military statement: “The operation to liberate the left bank of Mosul has started,” with the participation of units of the army’s ninth armored division, third platoon, and 16th infantry troop.
Counter Terrorism forces were under attack as they advanced toward the Christian town of Bartella. A warplane targeted a site suspected to belong to ISIS and used by terrorists to launch missiles, and a Humvees motorcade targeted an industrial area controlled by extremists.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Federal Police (IFP) and Iraqi rapid intervention forces with air and ground support from the international coalition, stationed in Qayyara military airbase south of Mosul, advanced towards the north. In addition, federal police continue to clear the town of Shura of ISIS militants after its liberation.
Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF), Iran-supported, began a new front at the west axis. PMF’s operations do not aim to head towards Mosul directly, but towards Shiite-majority town of Tal Afar, west of Mosul. That would cut off any chance for the extremists to retreat their positioning to Syria or receive reinforcements.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Iraqi Joint Special Operations Command, Yahya Rasoolal-Zubaidi told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the ninth division and counter terrorism are 2 km away from the center of Mosul. He added that the forces are stationed on the bank of Tigris river and awaits orders to enter the city.
Iraqi security forces, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, Counter Terrorism Forces, and about 10,000 tribe fighters started the offensive, with air and ground support from the U.S.-led coalition against ISIS in Mosul.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi assigned the west of Mosul, particularly the strategic town of Tal Afar, to the PMF to cut any reinforcements and prevent militants from escaping toward Syria.