The US-backed offensive to retake Mosul from ISIS began in October. In November, they told us the city would be liberated in two months.
The Iraqi military began its “final push” to free the city last weekend, as the fight for Mosul entered its ninth month. Soldiers were met with booby traps, car bombs, mortar fire, and snipers as they made their way into the city’s narrow streets.
Thousands of Iraqi military forces, Sunni Arab tribesmen, Kurdish Peshmerga fights, and Shia militiamen, assisted by US-led coalition aircraft and advisers, are involved in the fight.
There were about 6,000 ISIS militants in the city when the battle began. Roughly 300 remain alive today, and they are trapped in the “Old City” – a small area on the banks of the Tigris River. This is the same spot where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the formation of a caliphate three years ago when ISIS captured the city.
“The loss of their last foothold in Mosul, once the largest city the militants controlled, will strike a huge symbolic blow to the Islamic State,” reports The Washington Post.
There isn’t much ground left to cover, but some officials believe the “final push” could last at least a month.
“The operation now is about street fighting,” said counter terrorism service spokesman Sabah al-Numan. “Air and artillery strikes will be limited because the area is heavily populated and the buildings fragile.”
Around 860,000 civilians have managed to escape, but an estimated 150,000 remain trapped in the city. Many of them are without food or water. At least 230 civilians have been killed during the past two weeks, some in air strikes and some by ISIS snipers as they tried to evacuate.
“The reason we know that they’re being shot at by snipers and not crossfire is because they’re being shot in the back,” adds UN’s humanitarian chief Lise Grande.
According to a statement by the International Rescue Committee, this will be a “terrifying time” for those still trapped in the city, who are “now at risk of getting caught up in the fierce street fighting to come.”
Editor’s note: This was a last opportunity for the Obama Adminstration to show strength, but it was poorly planned and implemented. It should have only taken the two months that were initially promised, but we allowed the effort to be led by a poorly trained and unmotivated Iraqi force, after telegraphing our intentions for months in advance. These measley 6000 terrorists had months to dig in, to take hostages, to lay traps and to stock up on ammunition and supplies. If this had been planned correctly, it should have been over already.