Iraqi soldiers in western Mosul. Photo: Rudaw video
MOSUL, Iraq — ISIS militants have intensified suicide attacks on the Iraqi army in western Mosul as the battle for the troubled city enters its third week.
The Iraqi military said at least 125 suicide bombings have been recorded since the operation began in the western half of the city on February 19, many of them with deadly outcomes for the Iraqi troops.
“More than 10 suicide bombers stage attacks on a daily basis,” said Iraqi army officer Hisam Wali.
“ISIS has developed new ways of making car bombs and we have tried to find new ways of foiling the bombers before they reach our troops,” Wali told Rudaw.
According to Wali the army has deactivated 15 bomb laden cars in Tayran and Josaq neighborhoods alone over the past two weeks. The military has also blown up some 80 car bombs, 25 motorcycles laden with explosives, and 40 bombers on foot.
Iraq’s helicopters have over the past week targeted ISIS posts inside the populated districts of the city, but the limited airstrikes have done little to crush the militants’ fragile defence line in central parts of Mosul.
The advancement of Iraqi troops has been slow as the army nears more inhabited centers of the city where ISIS is thought to be using residents as human shields. Around 750,000 people are still estimated to be in western half of Mosul where ISIS is largely in control.
“The militants have a very weak defence line in these areas. We liberated the eastern half and God willing will do so also in western half of it too,” said Lieutenant Rami Fallah of the Iraqi army.
The army says over 300 ISIS gunmen have been killed in the past two weeks and another around 100 have been captured. Over 500 Iraqi soldiers have been killed since the operation started.