Plumes of smoke rise into the sky of western Mosul on Tuesday as Iraqi forces, supported by the US-led international coalition against ISIS have launched a military offensive to defeat ISIS in Mosul, the last major stronghold of the extremist group in Iraq.
MOSUL, Iraq – Iraqi forces are slowly making advances against the ISIS militants as they have reached the street that leads to Mosul’s Old City and the Old Bridge, also called the iron bridge, in the center of western Mosul.
Iraq’s Federal police and the elite Rapid Response has been struggling to regain control of the Bab al-Tub district where the fighting has been going on for about a week, facing a scaled-up, aggressive use of sniper fire and mortar attacks from the ISIS militants.
Iraq forces are now in control of some parts of the district, Rudaw’s teams of reporters said Tuesday morning, but the fighting goes on.
US-trained elite Iraqi Counter terrorism Service (ICTS) recaptured New Mosul and al-Naft in western Mosul on Monday, Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Rashid Yaralla, the commander of the Mosul offensive said in a military statement, adding that the force also stormed the district of al-Risala.
The Iraqi forces have now recaptured one-third of the right bank of Mosul, located west of the Tigris river that bisects the city.
They are also in control of the western ends of two of five bridges on the river.
The Rapid Response is now using curtains to avoid being detected as they try to enter the Old City, a highly populated area with narrow streets that makes it almost impossible for military vehicles to move around, and therefore further exposes them to ISIS fire.
VIDEO: Rudaw's Nabard Hussein reports about the unfolding war in Western Mosul on Monday showing Iraqi forces use a number of tactics to avoid the ISIS fire, including long curtains to pass through one street to another.
UN: Camps for displaced persons south of Mosul are full
In the UN Refugee Agency’s (UNHCR) weekly update, it stated internally displaced persons (IDPs) continue to be transferred to camps south of Mosul, but they are full. Camps to the east and northeast of Mosul are ready to receive up to 27,400 IDPs.
The report states since the third phase of the Mosul offensive began on Feb. 19 — the retaking of western Mosul from ISIS militants — at least 89,000 persons have fled, 60,000 are sheltered in camps, while a growing number are reportedly sheltered in host communities in eastern Mosul.
The Iraqi government has put the figure above 100,000 persons, which indicates around 600,000 people still remain in western Mosul.
Up to 15,000 IDPs arrive at Hammam Al-Alil screening site daily, and UNHCR stated it expects that number to increase, so the agency is “working round the clock” to increase capacity by 4,000 persons.
As of Monday, the Kurdistan Region has taken in 4,249 families and 21,523 individuals from Mosul since Feb. 19, according to statistics from the Kurdistan Regional Government’s Joint Crisis Coordination Centre (JCC).
Tuesday’s report stated currently 224,298 Iraqis have been internally displaced from Mosul since Oct. 17, while 250,952 Iraqis are hosted in regional countries and 14,486 Iraqis were received in Al Hol camp in Syria.