Iraqi army backed by U.S troops have recaptured east Mosul. Islamic State defences are reported to have collapsed on the left back of the Tigris River.
There are a few fighters hanging on to a few north-eastern districts. According to Brigadier General Sami Al Aradi, these would be “cleaned up”. The Iraqi Special Operations Forces General continued to say, “After that we will move on to west Mosul.”
The announcement marks the end of three months of fighting where Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) began the push to retake the city of Mosul. The city has been controlled by militants from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) who have held it for two and a half years. ISF managed to move faster since 29th December 2016.
Toughest Battle yet to come
According to analysts the toughest battle may yet to come in the west of the city. Isil still has strong defences in that region. It is believed that should ISF manage to take west Mosul it will spell the end for the Islamic caliphate in Iraq.
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Brig Gen Aradi said, “We don’t want to give Isil a chance to reinforce or even breathe. There will be a strong fight in the west but we don’t want to reveal our strategy yet.”
Residents of Mosul have reported panic among Isil fighters as ISF forces closed in on them. One resident, Ahmed Mahmoud said there were four Isis bodies in his street and a further two down the road where a coalition bomb exploded.
Michael Knights an Iraq analyst based in Washington said, “The key question now is what kind of reserves the Islamic State has in west Mosul: did it already invest them in east Mosul, or are there still enough for a long defence of west Mosul?”
A pause in the fighting is expected while ISF forces attempt to cross the River Tigress where fighting is expected to be more intense.