Iraqi forces face army of 1800 ISIS militants, 200 suicide bombers in West Mosul
The Iraqi forces will face an army of at least 1,800 militants, and 200 suicide bombers, Brigadier General Yahya Rasul, spokesperson for the Joint Operations Command, told Rudaw TV on Sunday night, noting that they have “accurate intelligence” on ISIS positions, methods, and their movements in the ISIS-held areas in western Mosul.
“The figures for the armed militants, based on the intelligence, are somewhere between 1,800 to 2,000, and there are about 200 suiciders.”
He avoided giving an exact timeline of the operation, adding that it will depend on the course of the battle. However he said that based on his observation of the advances made on Sunday, the Iraqi forces will reach the southern edges of Mosul very soon.
“Within the next few days, we will reach the edges of [western] Mosul, the districts of the [western] Mosul. And then the real fight will begin with the members of the terrorist organization that will involve street fighting and fighting in the residential areas.
Iraqi military seize key power station that supplies electricity to the entire western Mosul
The Iraqi armed forces have reportedly taken control of the main power station which supplies electricity to Mosul’s entire western bank, commander of the Nineveh operation said, also confirming that more than a dozen villages have thus far been liberated in the renewed offensive to free the other half of the city from ISIS.
Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah said that the Iraqi federal police controlled the Lazakah power station, south of Mosul on Saturday, along with nine villages, including Lazakah itself.
They are also now in control of the intersection that connects Hamam al-Alil to the Baghdad-Mosul road.
A joint operation by the Iraqi army, the federal police, the elite Quick Response Units and the mainly Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi forces launched a coordinated multi-front military operation early on Sunday morning, after a pause in the military advance of about one month since the prime minister declared the full liberation of the eastern half of the ISIS stronghold of Mosul on January 24.
The federal police have destroyed 14 car bombs and six improvised explosive devices (IED), the military's statement said without giving any details of whether there were any casualties among the Iraqi forces.
The ninth armored division of the Iraqi forces also liberated six villages, including Ibrahimiya, southwest of Mosul, which is close to Ghazlani military base, while destroying two car bombs.
The Hashd al-Shaabi forces, the statement claimed, have liberated two villages of Tal Kaysum, in coordination with the Iraqi military, and Imam Hamza. The latter however was announced liberated on October 31, three days after the paramilitary forces joined the Mosul offensive last year.
Hashd al-Shaabi in total destroyed three ISIS car bombs.
The Iraqi army liberated an area of 63 square kilometers and the federal police 60 square kilometers.
The Iraqi air force and the US-led international coalition against the extremist group provided airstrikes in support of the Iraqi forces, Lt. Gen Yarallah said.
As ISIS lost the control over the eastern half of Mosul, it cut off the national power grid to the liberated areas, leaving locals to depend on private generators. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi told reporters late last month that the government was trying to solve the issue. He confirmed that the national grid is delivered to the liberated areas in Mosul from the western half, which was then under full control of the extremist group.
It is not clear whether ISIS controls other power stations still under its control.
Iraqi army closes in on Ghazlani military base
The Iraqi government forces said that two more villages have been liberated, Dibajah and Zakrutiyah, south and southwest of Mosul.
Zarkutiyah is to the southeast of the Ghazlani base, a target for the Iraqi forces, and to the west of it is the liberated village of Ibrahimiyah.
The UN reported in late October that one hundred and ninety former Iraqi Security Forces were killed in the Ghazlani military base.
Rudaw’s correspondent at the scene earlier said that the army's next focus is the base, where the Iraqi army left a significant amount of weapons when ISIS took the city in June 2014. Ghazlani base is located just west of Mosul airport on the southern edge of the city.
ISIS continues to retreat, losing five more villages southwest of Mosul
The Iraqi army and the mainly Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi forces have liberated five more villages southwest of Mosul, the country's war media office for the Joint Command announced.
The 9th division of the Iraqi army continued their advance south of Mosul as they were able to control the four villages of Husainyah, Sheikh Yunis, Huraqiyat, and Ibrahimiyah southwest of Mosul.
The Iraqi army and the Hashd al-Shaabi were also able to jointly force out the ISIS militants from Tal Kaysum village, also southwest of the city.
"The Iraqi forces consisting of the Iraqi army, Hashd al-Shaabi, and Federal Police managed to accomplish today's military plans successfully, inflicting major damages to the enemy,” Shaalan Ali, commander of the Iraqi Federal Police told Rudaw from Hammam al-Alil. “Like before, they routinely use car bombs, send suicide bombers, plant bombs. But we quickly reached our targets, liberating [seven villages]."
"On our front we killed around 37 ISIS militants. We have not obtained the death toll among ISIS militants on the other fronts, but we have dealt a major blow to the enemy by also detonating 10 car bombs and clearing 20 houses of booby traps.”
Speaking of ISIS resistance, he said "Since our forces are familiar with ISIS war tactics, which are dependence on snipers, car bombs and suicide bombers, they cannot withstand our forces from advancing... Overall, the foe's morale is broken. Many of their leaders have defected from the battlefields. And these kinds of defections have caused fights among the militants themselves.”
Rudaw’s correspondent at the scene said the army's next focus is Ghazlani base, where the Iraqi army left a significant amount of weapons when ISIS took the city in June 2014. Ghazlani base is located just west of Mosul airport on the southern edge of the city.
The Iraqi Federal Police have entered and taken control of the villages of al-Kanttira and al-Abyath, the war media cell stated. The police are progressing along the Mosul-Baghdad road south of the Mosul airport.
Brett McGurk, US special presidential envoy to the global anti-ISIS coalition, met with Kurdish President Masoud Barzani in Munich Sunday morning. He described the meeting as “poignant,” held as the operation in west Mosul began. He said they had the opportunity to reflect on how far they have come in the fight against ISIS, progress that could not have been made without the close cooperation between Peshmerga and Iraqi forces.
One person has been killed and nine wounded in a suicide bombing in east Mosul’s My Fair Lady, al-Zuhur, neighbourhood, Reuters reported citing security sources.
The Iraqi army began a four-frontal attack on ISIS in west Mosul Sunday morning.
"From four fronts we started our attack on the right side of Mosul. We cannot set a timeframe for full control over it due to the conditions of the fight. But we hope we will implement a plan set by the commander of the armed forces and the 'We are Coming Nineveh' operations as soon as possible," Brig. Najim Jabouri, commander of the We Are Coming Nineveh operation, told Rudaw TV by phone.
Jabouri added, "Our main task is to free people, before land."
Brig. Yahya Rasoul, spokesperson of the Iraqi joint forces command, told Rudaw TV, “With the launch of the offensive, the Iraqi air forces and coalition forces began to extensively bomb the area together with our artillery units."
Concerning damages inflicted on ISIS Sunday morning, "major blows have been made on the group,” he said. “The Ninth Armored Division has taken over Bakhira village and the federal police forces have controlled Azba village on the Baghdad-Mosul road, as well as Lazaka village on the old Hammam al-Alil-Mosul road and its electricity station, raising the Iraqi flag there."
Commented on the Peshmerga involvement in the operation, Jabouri explained "As a supporting force from their positions on the left side of Mosul, the Peshmerga are on alert for any possibilities."
"The coalition is taking part in it. Their task is to bomb ISIS militants' positions with long-ranging weapons widely. Therefore, since early in the morning the coalition's long-ranging artillery have been targeting an ISIS prison, allowing the prisoners to escape."
The Iraqi federal police continue to progress along the Baghdad-Mosul road, retaking another group of sites: al-Kafoor, al-Jamasa, al-Bijwari, and al-Aqrab, the war media cell announced.
They are advancing towards the southern edge of the city where the Mosul airport is located.
Iraqi forces are progressing from the south of Mosul, along the Tigris River. Their forces have taken Azba village on the Mosul-Baghdad road and Alzaka village in the Hammam al-Alil area, the war media cell announced.
The global anti-ISIS coalition released a statement commending the Iraqi forces leading the fight for west Mosul.
“ISIS’s cruelty, brutality and reach show they are not just a threat in Iraq and Syria, but to the region and the entire world,” said Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, commander of the coalition’s Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, according to the press release.
The statement hailed the capability and professionalism of the Iraqi forces.
“Mosul would be a tough fight for any army in the world, and the Iraqi forces have risen to the challenge,” said Townsend. “They have taken the fight to the enemy and sacrificed their blood for the people of Iraq and the rest of the world.”
“The entire Coalition salutes and wishes God’s blessings on the brave Iraqi soldiers, police and militias who today are fighting to liberate their country and make the region and the world a safer place,” said Townsend.
The coalition has carried out more than 10,000 airstrikes against ISIS in Iraq and trained and equipped more than 70,000 Iraqi forces, the statement detailed.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has announced the start of the military operation to retake west Mosul from ISIS.
Addressing the Iraqi forces taking part in the operation, Abadi said, "I have told the world how brave you are and everyone is proud of you, of your success and victory with the people."
The western half of the city is estimated to be home to approximately 750,000 civilians whom the United Nations warned on Saturday were already suffering from a humanitarian crisis. The people are suffering from shortages of basic necessities including food and fuel. Prices for what goods there are in the city have skyrocketed, the UN stated.
This part of the city, also known as the right bank is surrounded by Iraqi and Kurdish forces. ISIS militants have attempted to reopen their supply lines to Raqqa, Syria, launching attacks on the Hashd al-Shaabi forces who control a segment of the road linking the two cities.
In west Mosul, predictions for the military offensive are that it may take up to five or six months.
“You don’t retake towns and cities the size of Mosul heavily defended quickly,” Maj. Gen. Rupert Jones, deputy commander for strategy and support of the US-led international coalition, told the BBC on Saturday. “The Iraqis know that it will be a tough fight. But I am confident they will prevail with our support.”
The city is more densely populated, with many narrow streets and alleyways. On Friday, Reuters reported that ISIS militants were developing networks of tunnels and passageways, knocking holes between houses in order to move around the city undetected.