Iraqi forces capture west Mosul's main government buildings in pre-dawn raid

Kristopher Drake
March 19, 2017

An elite Rapid Response team stormed the Nineveh governorate building and government complex in an overnight raid, spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Abdel Amir al-Mohammadawi said.

By noon, troops on the ground said the complex has not yet been fully secured and that they are battling a wave of intense Islamic State counterattacks. His unit then pulled back to a base on the edge of Mosul's Tayran neighborhood, and the clashes were still underway at the complex later Tuesday.

Mosul is divided by the Tigris River, and while the series of bridges crossing it have either been damaged or destroyed, they would provide a link between the Iraqi government-held east and IS-held west Mosul if they can be repaired or otherwise bridged.

The government compound includes the main local government and provincial council buildings, a police headquarters and a court building, said Lt. Gen. Raed Shakir Jawdat, commander of Iraq's federal police.

Nowruz added that the ministry had just sent a first shipment - containing 35 tons of food and humanitarian aid - to western Mosul's Wadi Hajar district.

IS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces backed by US-led air strikes and other support have since regained most of the territory they lost.

Their advance in western Mosul paused over the past 48 hours because of bad weather. Al-Abadi was shown descending from a military plane at the city's airport and meeting with senior military officers.

"Unfortunately, there is a clear shortfall in the work of these (UN) organisations", Jassem Mohammed al-Jaff said in a statement.

The militants have barricaded streets with civilian vehicles and rigged them with explosives to hinder the advance of Iraqi forces who were also met with sniper, machinegun and mortar fire, as well as explosives dropped from drones.

The old city lies on the western bank of the Tigris river that cuts Mosul in two.

Unlike other heritage and archeological sites in and around Mosul, Daesh militants couldn't destroy it as residents formed a human chain around it to protect it when they came to blow it up.

The number of civilians fleeing western Mosul in recent weeks has topped 57,000, an Iraqi official said Sunday.

Meanwhile on Tuesday, the United Nations said that by Sunday, it had registered that about 42,000 people fled their homes in western Mosul since the start of the operation last month.

Their ranks rose by more than 10,000 in the past two days, the government said.

This has focus shifting on the open-ended USA training operation in Iraq, with trainers now teaching Iraqi troops how to cobble together floating bridges good enough to get them across a river, a skill that seems increasingly essential in Mosul, which is both bisected by a large river, and has no remaining bridges.

West Mosul is the largest remaining urban stronghold in the "caliphate" declared by ISIL, also known as ISIS, in 2014.

Other reports by Ligue1talk

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