US-backed forces have retaken a quarter of the terrorists’ last major stronghold in Iraq in the biggest ground operation there since the 2003 US-led invasion to topple Saddam Hussein.
More than 5,000 soldiers and federal police troops, redeployed from Mosul’s southern outskirts, entered half a dozen southeastern districts, while counter-terrorism forces advanced in al-Quds and Karama districts after reinforcements arrived.
“Today we re-launched the second phase (of the offensive). It is a blessed day in which we defeated Daesh (Islamic State) in the Quds neighborhood, where (the militants) used to target the families, terrorize the children and damage civilian property,” said head of the counter-terrorism forces, Lt. Gen. Abdelghani al-Assadi.
A US-led coalition backing the Iraqis said the operation had opened two new fronts inside Mosul and limited Islamic State’s ability to raise fighter numbers, move them or resupply.
The fall of Mosul would probably spell the end for Islamic State’s ambition to rule over millions of people in a self-styled caliphate, although the militants would still be capable of waging a traditional insurgency in Iraq, and plotting or inspiring attacks on the West.