Erbil – Coalition warplanes have sunk more than 90 watercraft in the past three days, including three barges. Islamic State (ISIS) militants had been using the boats to cross the Tigris River and withdraw from eastern Mosul.
“Many of these watercraft were being used to ferry ISIS fighters and equipment across the Tigris River,” the US-led coalition said in a statement. “[ISIS is moving] from east to west Mosul, in an attempt to escape the Iraqi security forces.”
“Iraqi forces secured the eastern bank and all five bridges across the Tigris River in Mosul during last week’s clearing operations, making it difficult for ISIS fighters to flee,” the statement added.
Colonel John Dorrian, the coalition’s spokesman, explained that the ISIS convoys were “a desperate attempt to retrograde ISIS fighters now that the Iraqi security forces own the eastern bank and every bridge.”
The American officer also said that Saturday’s airstrikes were “one more example of how the coalition is supporting the military defeat of ISIS,” adding that the coalition was continuing to launch “airstrikes while the Iraqi military completes the clearance of eastern Mosul.”
Since the battle for Mosul began, on October 17, the coalition has sunk at least 112 boats on the Tigris River, as well as several others on nearby waterways.
On Wednesday, the Iraqi security forces announced that they had liberated all of eastern Mosul. However, fighting continues in the city’s northeastern neighborhoods.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi estimated that it would take at least three months to liberate Mosul and the rest of Iraq. Army officers concurred, adding that they believe ISIS has been crippled in Mosul.
“There’s not gonna be a long wait before we start seeing ISIS killed in west Mosul,” said Col Dorrian, implying that some of eastern Mosul remains contested.
“However, the battle of Mosul is far from over,” reasoned Rasha Al Aqeedi, an Iraqi Research Fellow at Al Mesbar Studies and Research Center. “The West side is still controlled by ISIS and [that battle] is bound to be bloodier than the past three months fighting for the East side.”
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News
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