Iraqi army soldiers fighting to defeat ISIS militants in industrial neighborhood, eastern Mosul. Photo: Rudaw video
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region— Heavily supported from the air, Iraq’s emboldened ground troops marched into the industrial neighborhood of Mosul in the early hours of Tuesday and advanced further towards the Tigris River in the eastern suburb of the city after gaining control of the nearby Misaq district.
The army says it is now almost in full control of the eastern pockets of the embattled city with nearly 45 neighborhoods under its control.
Tuesday’s clashes were preceded by heavy raids from Iraqi and coalitions airpower using so called Night Hunter helicopters among other gunships.
The intense clashes which lasted for nearly 7 hours into the late afternoon led to retreat of ISIS gunmen from the so called industrial district of Mosul where they attacked army convoys with at least one car bomb in Misaq neighborhood.
Rudaw’s embedded correspondent Ranja Jamal who is travelling with the Iraqi police units in Mosul said residents abandoned their homes for the safety of nearby districts already in army control as soon as ISIS left their neighborhoods
“Although it’s difficult to verify if the entire Misaq district is in the hands of Iraqi forces, it seems that ISIS militants had left the area ahead of Tuesday’s offensive,” Jamal said.
He added that the army has raised the Iraqi flags in several locations inside the Misaq neighborhood which Jamal could make out from distance in the nearby industrial district.
The operation to retake Mosul from the ISIS militants which started on October 17 has entered its third month with unexpectedly slow pace of the army although both Kurdish and Iraqi leaders have publicly praised the relative professionalism of the joint ground troops.
Much points to further delay of army’s mobilisation into central parts of the city which still appears to be in ISIS’ firm grip and where almost a million people are believed to reside. Iraqi leaders have said, to avoid civilian casualties, the army has chosen to move with patience.
Both Hawija and Tal Afar also remain in militants’ control where ISIS is believed to enjoy robust protection provided by its many tunnels and ditches in addition to strong local support.
On Thursday the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yidirim is expected to visit Baghdad where he will discuss the Mosul operation with his Iraqi counterpart Haidar Abadi, according to Turkish government sources.
Turkey has a limited military presence in Bashiq camp near Mosul where Sunni fighters are being trained and funded and could play a decisive role as the operation evolves.