Battle Against ISIS For Mosul Rages On [VIDEO]

Battle Against ISIS For Mosul Rages On [VIDEO]

While our attention has been focused on our own elections and now the death of a dictator, the Iraqi forces have been slowly pushing and fighting to retake Mosul from ISIS.

Iraqi army tanks, southeast of Mosul, on November 26, 2016 (picture: REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani)
Iraqi army tanks, southeast of Mosul, on November 26, 2016 (picture: REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani)

Forty days into the biggest ground offensive in Iraq since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, about a quarter of the city has been taken by U.S.-backed government units on the eastern side. The western part could prove far more dangerous, Major General Najm al-Jubbouri, one of the army’s top commanders, told Reuters.

Residents still wearing the long beards demanded by Islamic State welcomed Iraqi troops into a neighborhood of east Mosul with coffee, cheers and kisses after the fighters left.

“Today we have been released from prison,” said a resident, Ahmed Zeidan Mahmoud. “We were imprisoned. No water, no electricity, there was nothing.”

This battle has been taking a heavy toll on both military forces and the civilian population, with the nearest hospital saying that they are “overflowing” with casualties.

Speaking late Sunday, Dr. Marwan Ghafuri of the West Irbil Hospital said the location, the main triage center for trauma cases from Iraq’s second-largest city, is seeing 100 to 150 patients daily.

He said the site “does not have enough beds” in the emergency room, but that authorities were expecting the tide to stay similar for three months.

The Iraqi army has slowed its pace in an effort to keep civilian casualties down, but that of course gives ISIS the chance to terrorize the civilians that much longer. The British commander on the ground assisting the Iraqi forces says that despite President-elect Trump’s comments, patience is required.

Maj-Gen Rupert Jones said daily attacks on Isis had led to “an extraordinary amount of progress” in the last year, but warned that the jihadi group was defending the city vigorously and that it was necessary for the Iraqi security forces (ISF) to demonstrate restraint.

The deputy commander of the US-led international coalition in the region added: “What we have all got to then have is patience and what you want is the ISF to clear their way through the city in a deliberate manner.

“They could hard charge their way through the city and there would be an awful lot of civilian casualties but it has been really impressive to watch [Iraqi prime minister Haider al-] Abadi downwards really care about civilian casualties. Therefore, they are taking a deliberate manner and trying to minimise their own casualties.”

Jones, who is based in the Kuwaiti headquarters of Operation Inherent Resolve, the campaign against Isis in Iraq and Syria, said the jihadi group was struggling, having lost 56% of the territory it once held in Iraq and 28% in Syria.

But he pointed out that Isis was behaving as barbarically in Iraq’s second city as it had ever done, saying it was “being ruthlessly evil on the streets of Mosul as we sit here in the sunshine: beheadings, throwing people in oil pits”.

The sooner ISIS is out of Iraq, and then decimated to the point of no return, the better. But with the civilian situation on the ground, one hopes that President-elect Trump really does listen to his military advisers and take a smart approach to finishing well in Iraq.

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Ava Gardner