|Published : 22 Nov 2016, 21:04:51|
Iraqi forces proceed to retake another Mosul neighbourhood
BAGHDAD, Nov 22 (AP): Iraqi troops moved on Tuesday to retake another neighborhood in the eastern sector of the northern city of Mosul but were facing stiff resistance from Islamic State militants, according to a top Iraqi commander.
Brig. Gen. Haider Fadel of the special forces told The Associated Press that IS fighters were targeting his forces with rockets and mortars as they slowly advanced in the densely populated Zohour neighborhood.
"We are cautiously advancing. There are too many civilians still living there," he said.
Iraqi troops began their siege of Zohour on Sunday as they fortified their positions in neighborhoods they had already retaken in eastern Mosul. Suicide bombings, sniper fire and concerns over the safety of civilians - there are one million civilians still in Mosul - have combined to slow down progress in the campaign to liberate the city, which began Oct. 17.
Mosul was captured by IS in the summer of 2014. It is Iraq's second-largest city and the last major IS urban bastion in the country. Most gains in the campaign so far have been made by the special forces operating east of the Tigris River. Other forces, including the Kurdish Peshmerga troops and volunteer Sunni militiamen, are advancing on the city from different directions, and the U.S.-led coalition is providing airstrikes and other support.
An airstrike by the U.S.-led coalition on Monday destroyed a major bridge over the Tigris in the southern part of the city, a move that appears designed to limit the IS capacity to reinforce or resupply fighters on the east bank of the Tigris where most of the fighting is taking place.