MOSUL, Iraq – Iraqi army has declared that it controlled the Musharifa area on the third day of opening a new front against the ISIS militants northwest of the city.
A statement from Iraq’s Joint Command stated that they were able to control the Mushairafa One, making them in full control of the entire Mushairafa area, located northwest of Mosul.
With Saturday's advance, the Iraqi forces are now near the 30 Tamuz district.
Earlier in the day the Iraqi forces continued to engage in intensive fighting against ISIS militants as they opened the new front since last Thursday.
Rudaw’s cameras have captured large plumes of smoke rising over the skyline of western Mosul Saturday as Iraqi forces, backed by their fighter jets and that of the US-led global coalition, bombed ISIS positions in the last remaining districts northwest of the city, and the now ISIS stronghold of Old Mosul.
Brigadier General Yahya Rassol, the spokesperson for Iraq’s joint command, told Rudaw Friday that their forces were in control of Musharifa One, Two and Three, Mikhail Monastery northwest of Mosul, as well as Hawi Kanisa.
Continued clashes had been reported Saturday morning in some of these acclaimed liberated districts, with ISIS using at least one car bomb, Rudaw’s Sidad Lashkri who is embedded with Iraqi forces reported from Mosul.
The Iraqi forces had faced strong resistance when they tried to make advances against the ISIS militants in Old Mosul, where it is more densely populated and the streets are narrower than the eastern part of the city. As a result, Iraqi armed forces were forced to shift the focus and instead open a new front in northwestern Mosul.
The spokesperson for the US-led Global Coalition Colonel Dorrian told Rudaw on Friday that " this new avenue of advance is the beginning of the end of ISIS in Mosul," as he made reference to the frontline opened northwest of Mosul by Iraq's 9th armoured division.
The ISIS militants are now “besieged” in all areas they control in Mosul and are “under the fireline” of the Iraqi forces, Brig. Gen. Rasool told Rudaw.
He also said that they have so far captured 70 percent of western Mosul, adding that ISIS territory has shrunk significantly compared to what it once was more than two and a half years ago.
He said ISIS used to control 40 percent of Iraq when it captured large parts of the country, including Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. It now controls less than 7 percent, he noted.
ISIS is still in control of the Turkmen town of Tal Afar, west of Mosul, Hawija,south of Kirkuk, and several places in the Anbar province west of the country, including al-Qaim and Rawa, near the Syrian border.
Commenting on an Iraqi airstrike that ISIS claimed killed scores of civilians, Raosol denied the accusations.
He claimed that the airstrike, targeting a building in northwestern district of 17 Tamuz, was aimed at an ISIS car bomb factory, based on intelligence received from the Iraqi Security Forces.
He claimed their information shows that all those who were targeted in the building were “armed adult men”.
Colonel Dorrian told Rudaw recently that their estimates show that there are fewer than 1,000 ISIS militants left in Mosul, down from at least some 6,000 militants when the Iraqis launched the Mosul offensive last October.