Iraqi government forces has finally begun the Battle for Mosul and inflicted “heavy losses of life and equipment” on ISIS. This comes hours after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the beginning of the offensive on Iraq’s second largest city.
Months of fighting to liberate towns and villages from the grip of the terrorist organization has been building up to this climactic battle. Early fighting began in Hamdaniya district southeast of the city. Iraq’s military inflicted immediate casualties to Islamic State fighters.
According to CNN, Prime Minister al-Abadi announced the offensive in a televised statement early Monday morning. The massive operation only has one goal, to drive ISIS out of Iraq.
There are currently 1 million people still residing in Mosul many of whom were forced to live under draconian laws. In his announcement al-Abadi addressed the residents of the city saying, “God willing, we will meet soon on the ground of Mosul where we all celebrate the liberation and your freedom.”
Iraqi Forces Begin Battle For Mosul With Support From Coalition Forces
According to Anadolu Agency, U.S. forces also deployed to the east of Iraq’s Mosul has started shelling ISIS targets. Peshmerga Commander Omer Huseyin revealed that American howitzers were positioned some 12.4 miles from the city.
Coalition forces also launched air strikes against ISIS positions in the city as the Battle for Mosul began. According to Huseyin, the terrorists started burning tires right after coalition forces struck the area. The acrid smoke from the tires serves to block the view of warplanes rendering them unable to hit their targets.
However, a Pentagon official who wished to remain anonymous revealed that “a full scale offensive hasn’t started yet.” The operation was also was an “Iraqi military plan” and would start whenever Baghdad gave the go signal.
Losing the Battle for Mosul would be devastating for ISIS due to it being their last great stronghold in Iraq. The city also serves as the group’s commerce hub where millions of barrels of Iraqi oil are sold to fund their operations.
This does not mean the total defeat of ISIS however as the group still holds their de facto capital of Raqqa. It is currently unknown if the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi has left Mosul for Syria in anticipation of the Iraqi government’s offesnsive.