VIDEO: Iraqi forces prepare to launch attack against the ISIS positions in southernmost district of Maamun.
Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah, Commander of the Nineveh operations
Hashd al-Shaabi said in a statement that their forces have liberated the villages of Tal Zalt, Um Masayyid, and al-Zaytun, east of the Turkmen town of Tal Afar, located west of the city of Mosul.
Iraq carries out airstrikes inside Syria against ISIS
The Iraqi Prime Minister has ordered airstrikes against ISIS positions inside Syria for the first time since the country started to fight against the extremist group in 2014, according to a statement from his office on Friday.
“We are determined to prosecute terrorism wherever found, which seeks to kill our children and our citizens. Thereby, we issued our orders to the command of the air force to attack the terrorist position of ISIS in Hasiba as well as al-Bu Kamal inside the Syrian territories which were responsible for the recent terrorist attacks in Baghdad. The heroes of the air force carried out the retaliatory operation against the terrorists with great success.”
The revelation was part of eight new directives to the Iraqi forces who began a fresh offensive against the ISIS group in Mosul on Sunday.
Al-Bukamal is located on the border in the Deir ez-Zor governorate on the Euphrates river.
Hasiba is an area near the Iraqi city of Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province.
Coalition air support provided a tremendous advantage to ISF in retaking Mosul airport
"We've seen the reports of the Mosul international airport being largely under control of the Iraqi security forces. They had captured the village of Albu Saif in the days leading up to the part where they went into the airport. This is an overlook position, a dominant position that provided a tremendous advantage to Iraqi security forces, said US Colonel John Dorrian, spokesperson for the international coalition to defeat ISIS in an interview with Rudaw TV.
"And they were able to move very successfully into the city with support from coalition airstrikes and coalition intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, so that the enemy targets could be identified so the Iraqi security forces could destroy those forces. And they were very successful in doing so."
Iraqi Federal police have liberated a sports facility in the western district of al-Tayyaran, the first gain for the advancing Iraqi forces in the city since the offensive began six days ago, Lt. Gen Shaker Jawdat, chief of the federal police said.
US General: 500 Iraqi soldiers killed, 3000 injured in battle for Mosul
About 500 Iraqi soldiers were killed in the war against ISIS in eastern Mosul which was declared liberated in late January, 100 days after the offensive begun in October 17, Gen. Joseph Votel, the head of the U.S. Central Command said, reported by the US Foreign Policy Magazine on Thursday. Gen. Votel also added that another 3,000 were wounded.
A top commander from the elite Iraqi Counter Terrorism Forces (ICTS), Let. Gen. Abdul Ghani al-Assadi whose forces spearheaded the offensive in eastern Mosul, told Rudaw in mid January that their forces are capable of continuing their advances despite losses in the battle fields. He did not however give a figure noting that “it is sustainable.”
Assadi said that like any other war, it is normal that they lose some of their forces, but explained that their forces previously fought ISIS in other Iraqi cities such as Anbar, and ones in Saladin province, yet they were capable to regroup and spearhead Iraqi forces in Mosul.
"There will be sacrifices and losses in the battles, because it is a war. But these sacrifices and losses will not affect the fighting capacity.”
ISIS deploys seven car bombs; Iraqis and coalition carry out five airstrikes
The advancing Iraqi forces, supported by Apache helicopters flying over western Mosul, have faced at least seven car combs deployed by the ISIS group, described as their weapon of choice.
Rudaw’s cameras captured at least one Iraqi ambulance rushing towards the front lines close to the southernmost district of al-Tayyaran.
The Iraqi and the US-led international coalition have so far carried out five airstrikes against the ISIS positions, Rudaw’s Sidad Lashkri reported on the ground.
Iraqi forces are still mostly in the outskirts of the southern district of Western Mosul, spread out in the desert, attacking the extremist group with mortar fire. Not far from this area plumes of black smoke could be seen rising from where ISIS militants are believed to have been stationed.
Iraqi forces enter first western Mosul district, Iraq's Joint Command said in a statement, entering southern district of al-Maamun.
The Joint Command also said that the elite Counter Terrorism Service (ICTS) fully liberated the Ghazlani military base, located next to the Mosul airport, south of the city
Iraqi forces control Mosul airport, advance on southern district
Iraqi Security Forces have liberated the entire Mosul airport Friday morning, and are now advancing towards al-Tayaran district, southern Mosul, Lt. Gen Shaker Jawdat, chief of the federal police said.
“The [Mosul airport] has been liberated entirely, and the Federal Police units are now pushing towards the al-Tayaran district,” Jawdat said in a statement.
Southernmost district of western Mosul in sight
Iraqi elite Counter Terrorism Service (ICTS) and the Rapid Response of the interior ministry, alongside the Federal Police are set to launch their offensive on the first western district of Mosul on Friday, preceded by heavy shower of airstrikes on ISIS position in the southern most district of al-Maamun, Rudaw’s Sidad Lahkri who is embedded with the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) on the ground reports.
The two villages of Tal Ruman and Tal Rayan, south and southwest of Mosul, are under full control of the ISF forces, Lashkri added.
The ISF forces have brought in bulldozers to make new roads for the advancing forces in an attempt to avoid the roadside bombs and explosives planted by the extremist group on the main roads.
The mainly Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi forces have also launched a Friday morning offensive east of the Turkmen town of Tal Afar, located west of Mosul, their media office reported.
It claimed that they have liberated the village of Zeytun, and have stormed the Tal Zalt area, along with the villages of al-Mawali and al-Masayid.
Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah, the commander of the Nineveh operations, said in a statement Thursday night that the Federal Police and the elite Rapid Response ”were able to liberate more than 50 percent of the [Mosul] airport, and cleaned the buildings of the airport.” This came after Iraqi commanders said earlier in the day that they controlled the entire airport.
The ISF is also expected to continue advancing on the remaining parts of the strategic airport. The airport was used for both civilian and military means in the past, including by the US forces after the invasion of Iraq. It could become a launch pad for attacks on the western districts of Mosul, just like the Qayyarah airport, liberated last year, now being used by the Iraqi and the coalition forces.
The elite Counter Terrorism Service (ICTS), who on Thursday joined the fresh offensive that began on Sunday, were able to liberate 85 percent of the Ghazlani military base, and continued to advance, Yalaralla said on Thursday.