Mosul- Iraqi special forces battling ISIS have pushed deeper into west Mosul, where jihadist resistance is showing signs of weakening under repeated assaults.
But the battle for Mosul’s Old City — which could see some of the toughest fighting of the operation — has not yet begun.
Iraq’s Counter-Terrorism Service attacked the Al-Amil al-Oula neighborhood of west Mosul early on Friday, and were battling the jihadists inside it, Staff Major General Maan al-Saadi, a CTS commander, told Agence France Presse.
Iraq’s Joint Operations Command later announced that CTS had retaken that area along with another neighborhood, Al-Amil al-Thaniyah.
Saadi said that following a string of losses since the launch of the government’s assault on west Mosul on February 19, ISIS resistance had diminished.
“After we broke the (first) defensive line, they lost many militants,” he said.
“The enemy has begun to collapse. They have lost many of their combat capabilities. Today, the enemy sent (suicide car bombs), but not in the numbers that they sent at the beginning of the battle.”
But as a result of the tactics used by the terrorist organization, including the use of civilians as human shields, the advance of Iraqi forces in some West Mosul neighborhoods has been slow.
At a field clinic near the front line in Mosul, an Iraqi Federal Police officer lay in discomfort on a stretcher, a drip in his arm and bandage plastered over his chest from where shrapnel from a mortar shell had pierced his sternum.
According to Reuters, the blast which wounded the 23-year-old, Jaafar Kareem, and two comrades, was in an area where rapid advances against ISIS earlier in the week have slowed as the militants aim mortar and sniper fire at Iraqi troops.
At least 10 shells had landed there that morning, before hitting their target, Kareem said.
“There have been a lot of our guys wounded today in the same area,” he said.
The makeshift clinic, an abandoned house manned by American volunteers and Iraqi military medics, was on Thursday regularly treating members of Iraq’s security forces rushed back from the front line in ambulances or armored vehicles.
“We’ve already had around 20 people come in for treatment (on Thursday) – about 70 percent civilian, but it’s been more military (casualties) up until today,” said Kathy Bequary, director of NYC Medics, the organization running the clinic.
Casualties her team have witnessed recently range from superficial wounds to the occasional patient dead on arrival, including one soldier with eight bullet wounds to his torso, she said.