Country Risk

Coalition says three-axes advance making progress in east Mosul

06 January 2017
The 3 January Islamic State video included footage of the aftermath of the battle for the Al-Salam hospital that took place nearly a month earlier. Source: Wilayah Ninawa

The second phase of the Iraqi assault on the northern city of Mosul has made "significant progress" since it began on 29 December, according to Colonel John Dorrian, the spokesman for the US-led coalition that is supporting the operation.

"For phase two, Iraqi forces synchronised simultaneous attacks from three axes into the city, with elements of the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service [also known as the Iraqi Special Operations Forces: ISOF], the Iraqi Army, and the Iraqi Federal Police conducting the operation. What we're finding is that the synchronised attacks present the enemy with more problems than they can solve."

ISOF units spearheaded the assault into eastern Mosul in early November and a second incursion was subsequently made by the 9th Armoured Division in the southeast. Since the start of the second phase, the Iraqi Ministry of Defence has reported that the 16th Infantry Division is advancing into the city along the northern axis.

Col Dorrian added that the Islamic State militants defending Mosul are now surrounded and using up their finite resources.

"As the Iraqis move along three different axes, they [Islamic State fighters] don't have the resources to defend all three. So they have to make hard choices to defend one or another, or defend each of them more weakly, and what happens then is the Iraqis are able to move more decisively against them," he said.

He noted that the Islamic State forces defending eastern Mosul are now particularly isolated due to the coalition's bombing of the bridges that link it with the more populous west on the other side of the Tigris.

The coalition announced on 30 November that it had disabled four of the five bridges to prevent the Islamic State from moving suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (SVBIEDs) and other resources to eastern Mosul.

The Islamic State released a video on 27 December showing that a section of the last remaining bridge - the city's oldest - had also been destroyed.

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