Outskirts of Mosul, Northern Iraq, 17 November 2016, by Mstyslav Chernov

Mosul: ISIS Can Surrender or Be Killed

Coalition Nearing Victory in Mosul

U.S., coalition and partner forces are edging toward victory in the campaign to defeat Islamic State of Iraq and Syria terrorists in and around Mosul, Iraq, the Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman told Pentagon reporters Wednesday, April 12.

Air Force Col. John Dorrian, speaking by teleconference from Baghdad, provided an update on the fighting in Mosul.

Islamic State using Civilians as Human Shield in Mosul

Iraqi forces are making incremental progress on the west side of Mosul, Dorrian said, in large part because of the need to protect against civilian casualties. “The enemy has intensified their exploitation of civilians by moving them in large numbers into harm’s way,” he said.

The enemy’s use of civilians as human shields is “a despicable tactic, and unfortunate, and heartbreaking,” he said. “But it is something that we’re seeing.”

Since the effort to take Mosul back from ISIS began Feb.19, Iraqi forces supported by coalition airstrikes have cleared nearly 200 square miles of territory, Dorrian reported.

He noted that there have already been some positive results for the people of Iraq as the fight against ISIS goes on.

“One of the things it’s very important to understand is that millions of people have been able to return to their homes because of the rollback of ISIS territorial gains,” he said. “And a lot of the reason for that is the coalition airstrikes that have supported our partners as they’ve taken that territory back.”

ISIS Can ‘Surrender or Be Killed’

Iraqi forces control both main routes west of Mosul, limiting ISIS fighters’ freedom of movement, he said. Iraqi has been encircled for “quite some time,” he said. The Iraqi counterterrorism service and federal police are pressing more deeply into the dense, urban terrain along the Euphrates River and the old part of the city, Dorrian said, while elements of the Iraqi army continue clearing territory to the north and west of the city center.

There is only a “shrinking cordon” in Mosul where ISIS can operate, Dorrian said.

“This enemy in Mosul is not going anywhere,” he said, later adding, “They’re not going to be able to leave to the west; they are cut off. … They have really two choices: they can surrender to the Iraqi security forces, or they’re going to be killed.”

While progress continues, the colonel said, it’s still a slow, tough fight.

“In reality, it’s very, very slow and very, very hard, and it’s gut-busting, difficult fighting between our forces and theirs,” he told reporters. “But our forces and the Iraqi security forces continue to make progress. It’s very slow, it’s very tough. One of the reasons for that is because we want to do it in a manner that protects civilian life. Prime Minister [Haider] Abadi’s been very clear on that, and it’s been an enduring principle of the campaign throughout.”

Mosul Campaign Continues

Iraqi government forces announced on Wednesday that military operations in central Mosul had resumed after being suspended for several days. Maj. Gen. Najm al-Jubouri, head of the Joint Operations Command’s Mosul operations, told BasNews on Wednesday:

Military operations were resumed in central Mosul with support from U.S.-led coalition jets. Troops are opening safe passageways to get civilians out of the battlefields. Sporadic confrontations started early on the day between the troops and Islamic State militants in Mosul’s Old City. Eight IS members were killed, dozens were injured in Central Mosul.

Abdul-Ghani al-Assadi, commander of the army’s elite Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Forces (ICTF), said that special forces had stormed districts al-Abar and al-Tanak in western Mosul to drive IS out.

Assadi said the forces completed “two thirds” of missions assigned to them as part of the Mosul liberation campaign, taking over 28 districts out of 38 on their targets list.

The latest victory was an attack by Iraq’s Army Aviation. According to the Wednesday statement from Iraq’s Ministry of Defence, the attack killed 20 ISIS fighters and destroyed a 23 mm cannon.

Al-Raad, a Rapid Response Force combat unit, arrived from Baghdad to supplement Iraqi forces in Mosul. Captain Adnan al-Khafaji admitted that suspended operations had allowed ISIS to reinforce its positions in the city. Al-Raad is specially trained in urban warfare.

ISIS Suicide Bombers Captured

Al-Hashd al-Shaabi’s 41st Brigade captured 12 Islamic terrorists wearing explosive belts en route from Mosul as they attempted to enter Salahuddin, according to Al-Hashd al-Shaabi Media Directorate on Wednesday, April 12.

Fierce Fighting West of Mosul

According to Iraqi News, 17 Islamic State members were killed to the west of Mosul on Wednesday.

Major Ali Mohsen, ICTF, stated that:

The forces raided al-Abar area killing 17 IS members. Security troops arrested six IS female members of different Arab nationalities, working for the so-called hisbah (vigilantism) office in the region. Troops liberated around 40 percent of Al-Abar region.

Sources: US Department of Defense; Iraqi News.

Photo: Outskirts of Mosul, Northern Iraq, 17 November 2016, by Mstyslav Chernov.

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