Iraqi forces gear up to advance on south Mosul

In the ongoing offensive to oust Daesh from Mosul, the Iraqi forces are preparing to advance towards the city’s disabled airport.

Photo by: AFP (Archive)
Photo by: AFP (Archive)

An Iraqi police commander said the advance on south Mosul would begin within two days.

Iraqi security forces engaged in a campaign to retake Mosul from Daesh are preparing to advance towards the airport in the south to increase pressure on the terror group. Daesh seized Mosul, the second largest city of Iraq, in 2014.

The international offensive to retake Mosul was launched on October 17. As the campaign entered its fourth week, the city is almost surrounded by coalition forces comprising close to 100,000 fighters. But so far the troops have only entered a handful of areas in the east of Mosul.

"We need to put wider pressure on the enemy in different areas," the commander of an elite coalition police unit, Major-General Thamer al-Husseini said.

He said operations would resume within two days.

The target was an area overlooking Mosul airport, which has been rendered unusable by Daesh to prevent attackers who may use it as a staging post for their offensive, according to Lieutenant-Colonel Dhiya Mizhir of the coalition's rapid reaction forces.

Iraqi forces took the town of Hammam al-Alil, about 15 km south of Mosul on Monday, as well as the village of Arbid on the southern outskirts of the city. November 9, 2016. (AFP)

Army officers said in September that Daesh had moved concrete blast walls onto the runway of Mosul airport to prevent planes from landing there.

Satellite pictures released by intelligence firm Stratfor also showed that Daesh has dug deep trenches in the runways and destroyed buildings to ensure clear lines of sight.

Iraqi forces took the town of Hammam al-Alil, about 15 km south of Mosul, on Monday.

Nimrud Ruins

Separate forces advancing on the eastern side of the Tigris targeted two villages on Thursday on the edge of the ancient city of Nimrud, an Iraqi military statement said.

Troops from the Ninth Armoured Division took the village of Abbas Rajab, four km east of Nimrud, and raised the Iraqi flag.

Nimrud was bulldozed last year as part of Daesh's campaign to destroy symbols they considered idolatrous, said the Iraqi government. It would be the first such site to be recaptured from the group.