Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Iraqi Forces Close in on Mosul Airport | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Iraqi soldiers gather to go battle against ISIS militants south of Mosul , Iraq, June 15, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

Erbil –Iraqi forces are closing in on Mosul airport, just south of Mosul, after dislodging ISIS militants from a nearby hill in Bouyoussif town, a key village overlooking Mosul’s airport.

A number of civilians in the area called for aid during a phone call with Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper as the forces launched the offensive on Sunday to capture the west side of Mosul that remains under the control of the militants.

The forces aim to take the airport and turn it into a close support base for the offensive into the city itself.

Ali al-Miyahi, fighter of the ninth armoured division said that the battles were grueling and ISIS had used attackers wearing explosive belts on motorcycles and booby trapped cars to attack the troops. He added that Iraqi Air Force attacked ISIS militants foiling their attempts.

Media Official of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) in Mosul, Ghyath al-Surji told Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper that the security forces liberated nine towns including Bouyoussif, the strategic town close to al-Ghazlani camp.

Surji added that the remaining ISIS militants are no more than a thousand, most of which are non-Iraqi Arabs and foreigners.

Meanwhile, the right side neighborhoods are suffering from difficult humanitarian situations, especially after ISIS militants blocked all major roads.

Oum Rakan, a citizen from Mosul, told Asharq Al-Awsat that ISIS militants are in array and have begun arresting anyone they suspect is involved with the security forces. She added that they are closing all roads with sand bags. When asked if there are any safe or underground places for civilians to hide when the battles intensify, she explained that there are none and they would just gather in a house.

Oum Rakan explained the humanitarian situation in the city where they don’t have any drinking water and they suffer from lack of medicine and food.

She called on the international community to help them and save them from dying since they can’t leave their homes now that ISIS had taken them as human shields.

Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, a top U.S. commander in Iraq, said the Iraqi forces are an “increasingly capable, formidable and professional force.”

“Mosul would be a tough fight for any army in the world, and the Iraqi forces have risen to the challenge,” he said in a statement.