VIDEO: Rudaw's cameras capture the aftermath of the liberation of Mosul University on Sunday
MOSUL, Iraq--With the liberation of Mosul University, ISIS has lost a major weapon and drone factory--where it was using the university’s laboratory and utilities for more than two years--and also one of its main command and control centers in eastern Mosul, an Iraqi commander told Rudaw.
The elite Iraqi Counter Terrorism Forces (ICTS) have liberated Andalus district on Sunday, next to Mosul university north of the city, while the Iraqi army--increasingly coordinating its assaults with the ICTS--have liberated Kafaat Two (Thani), also close to the university.
Today's advances come after the Iraqi security forces have made significant progress against ISIS militants in the eastern half of the city in the last two days, announcing the full liberation of southeastern and east of Mosul.
North of the city, they controlled Mosul University, one of the largest education compounds in Iraq, and as it has emerged today, a weapons factory for ISIS militants.
Rudaw cameras have captured the liberated compound where in the near distance across the university heavy gunfire could be heard from Shurta and Andalus districts.
“Their [ISIS’] morale has collapsed, as they lost all of these districts,” Lt. Gen. Abdulwahab al-Saadi from Iraq’s Golden Brigade, an elite force that is part of the ICTS, told Rudaw inside the now-liberated Mosul university, “and that it lost the university; it was believed that the university was the main center [for ISIS], because there were workshops and laboratories to make weapons, explosives, and drones.” he added.
ISIS militants have used modified-drones to drop grenades on the Iraqi forces, a new tactic aimed at slowing down the advancing forces.
Saadi said that there are few remaining districts still held by ISIS, including Shurta, Muhandiseen, and Zaraai on the edge of the Tigris river from the eastern bank, and also Arabi district north of the city which the Iraqi army is tasked with its liberation.
“Clashes are happening here and there, “he said referring to the heavy gunfire in the background, “it will be taken under control, and the remaining districts will be liberated.”
But Rudaw's live map which tracks the progress on the ground show that there are more areas to be liberated than the Iraqi forces admit, especially in northern and northeast of the city.
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Dark green - under Peshmerga control
Light green - encircled/battling by Peshmerga
Red - under Iraqi control
Pink - encircled/battling by Iraqi forces
Yellow - under Hashd al-Shaabi control
Orange - encircled/battling by Hashd al-Shaabi
The Iraqi forces were perhaps not aware of the full extent of the university’s significance when they liberated it yesterday. Talb Kanaani, the ICTS commander talked about its symbolic and educational importance when he was celebrating its liberation with much enjoyment on the state TV.
Today it was emerged that it was more than that.
“It was [also] their command and control center, and also a center for the foreigners and the [non-Iraqi] Arab militants."
Meanwhile, Rudaw's cameras have captured people fleeing their homes in some parts of the city, carrying only all they can.
The Kurdish authorities in Kurdistan Region, where many of the Mosul residents have sought refuge, said this week that three thousands people are fleeing their homes on daily basis, double the number before the launch of the second phase of Mosul offensive late December.