Baghdad – Agencies
BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Iraqi forces moved into Mosul from the north on the second day of a new offensive aimed at speeding up a seven-month-old campaign to expel a militant group, military commanders said Friday.
“What we encountered during this operation was an attempt by the elements of the organization to disrupt the sectors with booby-trapped vehicles and obstructions,” Brigadier General Walid Khalifa, deputy commander of the 9th Armored Division, told Reuters in Halilah, west of Musheira.
Troops killed about 30 terrorists and destroyed five car bombs, he said. US air support has played an important role in monitoring mined vehicles and in avoiding targets where civilians are trapped.
“The terrorists did not have time to set up roadblocks and progress has been going well since yesterday,” Brigadier Yahya Rasul, spokesman for the Joint Operations Command, said.
The new foothold of the Iraqi forces is aimed at opening escape corridors for hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped behind the lines and thus helping troops to advance.
The Ninth Armored Division and the Ministry of the Interior’s Rapid Response Force are seeking access to the Euphrates River Bank to complete the encirclement of the old town controlled by Dahesh.
The advance of these forces is supported by the counterterrorism forces and the hard-line federal police from the south. The terrorists are now trapped in the northwestern tip of Mosul, which houses the Old City and the large Nuri Mosque, whose black minaret has been fluttering since June 2014.