Iraqi special forces were advancing toward the more urban center of Mosul on Tuesday after entering the outskirts of the city in a bid to retake it from Takfiri terrorists.
The advance into Iraq’s second largest city in over two years marks the start of what could be a grueling and slow operation for troops, with the terrorists holed up in their positions and using civilians as human shields.
According to the commander of the special forces, troops entered the Gogjali neighborhood inside Mosul’s city limits and by noon were only 800 meters (yards) from the more built-up Karama district.
“Daesh is fighting back and have set up concrete blast walls to block off the Karama neighborhood and our troops’ advance,” Maj. Gen. Sami al-Aridi said.
Iraqi artillery, tank and machine gun fire pounded Daesh positions, with the Takfiri terrorists responding with guided anti-tank missiles and small arms in an attempt to block the advance.
Across the liberated districts, white flags fluttered to show the residents wouldn’t resist the Iraqi army advance. Some residents stood outside their homes, and children raised their hands with V-for-victory signs, the Associated Press reported.
One resident said Daesh was preventing families from moving toward the security forces and ordered them into the city center.
UN human rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani meanwhile said Daesh was trying to move 25,000 civilians from the town of Hammam al-Alil to Mosul to use them as human shields.
Most of the trucks used in the operation on Monday were forced to turn back under pressure from patrolling aircraft, but some buses managed to reach Abusaif, 15 km north of the town, she added.
Shamdasani also cited reports from the field as saying that the terrorist group on Saturday killed 40 former members of the Iraqi security forces near Mosul and threw their corpses in the Tigris river.
She said the UN has no documented any reports of abuses by Iraqi troops or civilian deaths in air raids in Mosul so far.
Iraq’s Badr Organization said seven villages located to the west of Mosul were purged of Daesh on Tuesday. Iraqi forces also took control of a government building in a village in eastern Mosul.
The spokesman for Hashd al-Shaabi or Popular Mobilization Units Ahmed Assadi said 39 villages west of Mosul have been purged of Daesh since the beginning of the operation about two week ago.
According to the Defense Ministry, as many as 27 Daesh terrorists were killed in fresh operations and their weapons and equipment seized or destroyed.
Meanwhile, a military source said a senior terrorist commander was killed in an airstrike in the center of Mosul on Tuesday.
Abu Tareq al-Hayali, the commander of the Daesh-affiliated Jund al-Khilafah, and seven of his companions were killed as Iraqi aircraft bombed their positions, he added.
With the advances gaining momentum, Takfiri militants are resorting to more desperate measures. On Monday, Iraqi forces thwarted a Daesh car bomb attack and another terrorist attack on the Asyla village west of Mosul, killing 12 terrorists and capturing two others.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the start of the operations to liberate Mosul on October 16. The city fell to Daesh in June 2014 as the Takfiri group crossed the Syrian border to expand its so-called caliphate.
The loss of Mosul would be a major defeat for the Takfiri terrorists because it is the last major Daesh bastion in Iraq.
By Press TV