Large plums of smoke rise from embattled the Zanjali neighborhood of Old Mosul where ISIS is still in control.
MOSUL, Iraq - On the second day of a newly launched massive assault to reclaim the remaining five districts in the western half of Mosul, the Iraqi army gained ground against retreating ISIS militants on Sunday in Saha district, with their emboldened troops entering other neighborhoods while engaged in heavy clashes with the radicals.
ISIS still partially retains control of five neighborhoods in Mosul, including the Old Mosul district, Shifa, Saha, Bab al-Sinjar and Zanjali
Rudaw’s Sidad Lashkiri reported from the scene that the US-trained elite Iraqi Counter terrorism Service (ICTS) have controlled 70 percent of Saha neighborhood and the Iraqi army’s 9th division is working to enter Shifa neighborhood and control its major hospital.
Iraq's Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary units (PMUs) are simultaneously launching a fresh offensive to capture areas ISIS controls in northern Iraq, particularly in the Yezidi areas of the Shingal region.
Also today, the Hashd announced they had retained control of Qahtaniya town (also called Kar Izir) about 10 kilometers southwest of Sinjar town near Baaj and close to the Syrian border.
In Mosul, Lashkiri said the army’s Rapid Response Force and Federal Police have controlled 60 percent of Zanjali with the help of fighter jets targeting two ISIS weapons depots.
He also reported a safe corridor has been opened for the trapped people of the Old Mosul district, where fighter jets are intensely bombing ISIS positions.
Military commanders reported that since 7 a.m., ISIS has used seven car bombs in a bid to halt the army’s march on all the fronts, Lashkiri said he was told.
The Iraqi army announced their newest offensive to reclaim the remaining districts in war-torn west Mosul on Saturday including Old Mosul.
The strategically important Old Mosul district, home to the Nuri Mosque and al-Hadba Minaret, also known as the Great Mosque, is where the ISIS leader Abu Bakir al-Baghdadi declared his so-called Islamic State caliphate on June 29, 2014.
Iraqi forces had previously faced strong resistance when they tried to make advances against ISIS militants in Old Mosul, where it is more densely populated and the streets are narrower than the eastern part of the city. As a result, Iraqi armed forces were forced to shift their focus and open a new front in northwestern Mosul earlier this month.
Mosul is the largest and last major urban area in Iraq which ISIS partially controls. The group was cleared out of eastern Mosul in January 2017 and Iraqi and US officials expect final victory in the western side of the city in the coming weeks.