VIDEO: a helicopter seen carrying out strikes against ISIS positions in Mosul on Tuesday.
MOSUL, Iraq –A combination of Iraqi forces have encircled the southern district of Wadi al-Hajar from south and southwest of the district, Rudaw’s correspondent embedded with the Iraqi forces reported from Mosul Tuesday afternoon.
The extremist group have put up a fierce fight against the advancing forces, but face intense airstrikes who target ISIS positions in the area by the use of helicopters.
An Iraqi senior commander told Rudaw that it was especially hard for their forces to breach the ISIS concrete defence lines in al-Tayyaran district which was liberated this week, and is next to the Wadi al-Hajar.
The US-trained Counter Terrorism Service who spearheaded the Mosul offensive on the left bank of the city have stormed the southern district of Wadi al-Hajar since Monday.
“The ISIS defense lines were very strong at the beginning,” Haidar Matuli, a commander of the Federal Police said.
Matuli said that ISIS have grouped together all of their fighters in the western Mosul to stop Iraq’s advance, including “many” of its foreign fighters, and non-Iraqi Arab citizens.
He also said they are trying to push northward towards al-Dawasa district that is on the touchline with the 4th bridge.
This comes after the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) took control of the key 4th bridge on Monday. ISF controls the left bank of the river, declared liberated in January, to the right side which is still largely under the control of the ISIS militants.
Iraqi Forces have launched a fresh offensive to liberate the right bank from ISIS more than a week ago, after a lull for weeks, and are now facing a strong resistance of ISIS militants deploying car bombs, sniper fire and armed commercial drones throwing grenades and explosives.
The ISF are now in control of the districts of al-Jawsaq and al-Tayyaran on the southern edge of the Tigris west of the city, and the southernmost district of al-Maamun from where more than 2,000 people fled in 24 hours this week.
Iraqi forces declared the liberation of the eastern half late last month, 100 days after the launch of the offensive last year in October.
A thick plume of smoke rises from areas opposite to the Mosul airport on Tuesday. The airport was liberated on Friday by the Iraqi forces.