Mosul civilians fleeing the fighting reach Gogjali neighbourhood on the eastern edge of the city. Photo: Rudaw video
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - The Iraqi army continued advancing on Mosul from the southeast on Wednesday, capturing four villages and aiming to take a fifth from ISIS militants.
“We began the operation from Tawajina, we are not so far from Mosul city,” said General Riyaz Jalal, a commander in the Iraqi army, noting that just one village remained to be captured on that front. “Only Julukhan is separating us from Mosul.”
The Iraqi army began the offensive on Tuesday night.
The villages of Tawajina, Qarat Tapa, and Yarghinti are now under control of the Iraqi army, Rudaw’s correspondent Farhad Dolamari reported from Bartella, east of Mosul.
The village of Hawsalat was also liberated, the War Media Office of the Iraqi forces announced on Wednesday.
Rudaw’s cameras caught a helicopter on the outskirts of Qarat Tapa, shelling ISIS positions and militants.
“A big hope is awaiting all Iraqis,” Jalal told Rudaw. “Every operation has been done successfully.”
Civilians trapped in the conflict zone, and the heavy use of IEDs, car bombs and suicide attacks by ISIS have slowed Iraqi army advances.
“We are not rushing to take back such areas, to avoid bombs, militants hiding inside tunnels, car bombs or suicide bombs,” Jalal detailed.
“We have defeated all kinds of attacks and also killed militants and sent them to hell. Militants are on the run,” the Iraqi army commander said.
More civilians fled Mosul, reaching the eastern Gogjali neighborhood of the city, where international agencies have been distributing humanitarian aid.
Most of the civilians fleeing from the west are seeking safety in areas under control of Kurdish Peshmerga forces.
On Tuesday, a United Nations spokesperson said the number of displaced people fleeing the military operation in Mosul had passed 68,000.
Among those civilians are some ISIS militants. A person affiliated with the extremist group was detained in Gogjali after a displace person recognized him and informed security officials, AP reported.
Wednesday marks the 38th day since the Mosul operation began. Coalition and local forces are fighting to retake Iraq’s second largest city from the militant group.
There is no expected end date for the final liberation of Mosul, Col. John Dorrian, spokesperson for the US-led coalition told Rudaw. He pledged continued coalition support until the Iraqi flag flies in the centre of the city.