Iraq launches offensive to liberate western Mosul from Islamic State

Iraq launches offensive to liberate western Mosul from Islamic State

Iraq launches offensive to liberate western Mosul from Islamic State

Following months of bloody fighting, they succeeded in reclaiming the eastern half of the city, trapping ISIS fighters and civilians in an enclave on the western bank of the Tigris.

Also on Saturday, the US-led coalition said that they had destroyed the de facto command center of IS in Mosul, a building in the main medical complex.

The sky south of Mosul was black with smoke from air strikes and artillery as thousands of forces in armoured convoys converged on the airport. Iraqi forces describe how they frequently see the 2- to 4-foot-long aircraft overhead, whining like a lawn mower.

The United States, which has deployed more than 5,000 troops in the fighting, leads an worldwide coalition providing critical air and ground support, including artillery fire, to the Iraqi and Kurdish forces.

Iraq forces say two villages retaken in new Mosul assault was posted in World of TheNews International - on February 19, 2017 and was last updated on February 19, 2017. USA special operations forces are embedded with some Iraqi units, and thousands of American soldiers are in Iraq to provide logistical and other support. This is a sharp contrast to how the military engagement was originally cast more than two years ago. The U.N. estimates that 750,000 civilians may be left in western Mosul. Since then, USA forces have steadily built up in Iraq and moved closer to front-line fighting.

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The Rapid Response force is advancing alongside the federal police and captured several villages, according to an officer, who said they had been largely abandoned by IS.

Mosul has been called ISIS' capital in Iraq, although its stronghold is in the Syrian city of Raqqa. The Iraqi prime minister's office said it had launched an investigation. Iraqi planes have dropped millions of leaflets on west Mosul telling Isis fighters to surrender, and people to stay in their houses and to display white sheets to show they are not resisting.

Members of Iraqi security forces sit on military vehicles during a battle with Islamic State militants in southeast of Mosul, Iraq, November 3, 2016.

The Iraqi government has regained the eastern half of the city, while IS remains in control of the western half. "We are coming, Nineveh [Mosul province], to liberate the western side of Mosul", he said.

The remainder now faces a 100,000-strong force made up of Iraqi armed forces, including elite paratroopers and police, Kurdish forces and Iranian-trained Shi'ite paramilitary groups.

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Capturing Mosul would effectively end the Sunni group's ambitions for territorial rule in Iraq.

Then the fighting will move to the narrow streets of western Mosul, where Isis and an estimated 650,000 civilians remain.

Concern is mounting over the fate of civilians trapped in the ISIS-controlled sector of Mosul.

The battle for Mosul's western half is expected to be prolonged and hard, due to denser population and older, narrower streets.

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