UPDATED: Iraqi army enters Old Mosul district from two sides
The Iraqi army declared they broke the ISIS siege and entered the Old Mosul district from two neighborhoods.
Iraqi army forces entered the Old Mosul district from Bab al-Baith and Bab al-Lakash neighborhoods, Mohammed Mukhtar, spokesperson of the Iraqi Defense Ministry confirmed in a press conference.
To halt the army’s advances, ISIS has used 10 car bombs since the start of the operation earlier this morning, Mukhtar added.
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – After a long siege, the Iraqi Army on Sunday launched a three-pronged final offensive against ISIS’s last pocket in Mosul, the Old Mosul district in the western half of the war-torn city.
The Iraqi Joint Operations Command announced that the army, Counter-Terror Forces (ICTS) and Iraqi Federal Police are taking part in the final battle to liberate the Old Mosul district.
Mahmood Saed, a commander from the Federal Police told Rudaw the operation was launched from three direction, north, south and east.
Saed expects a complete liberation of Mosul from ISIS in the coming days.
Yesterday, the Iraqi army announced after weeks of heavy fighting, the contested Shifa neighborhood was reclaimed in west Mosul, reducing the total number of pockets ISIS controled to just one.
In a failed effort to break the Iraqi army’s siege, ISIS on Wednesday launched a wide-scale counterattack on the Iraqi army to break out of the Old Mosul district, where they are surrounded by Iraqi forces. The confrontation killed 11 Iraqi Federal Police and some 40 ISIS militants.
Old Mosul is where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the so-called Islamic Caliphate on June 29, 2014 in al-Nuri mosque.
The fight for Old Mosul is expected to be the hardest amid its old style houses and narrow alleys, and the bloodiest in a conflict that has already been marked by horrific civilian casualties.
With the start of the operation, it is expected the number of civilians fleeing the Old Mosul district will reach 150,000 refugees, according to Jasim Atiya, deputy minister of migration in Iraq.
The UN warned on Friday that up to 100,000 civilians remain trapped in the district with fears that the extremist group may use them as human shields.
The Federal Police commander assured trapped civilians that they have opened safe corridors for them.
The Iraqi army also announced on Saturday it had recaptured the Walidiya border gate between the Iraqi-Syrian border following a joint operation from three fronts between the Iraqi army, Hashd al-Asahaari, backed by the Iraqi air force and US-led global coalition against ISIS.