Erbil – On Wednesday, the Iraqi security forces announced the full liberation of Eastern Mosul from ISIS, despite ongoing clashes in the northeast of Mosul.
Officials say the rest of Mosul can still take months to be liberated, as are still 3,000 to 5,000 ISIS fighters in the city.
“Iraqi Forces have announced the full liberation of east Mosul from ISIS terrorists. Mabrouk [congrats]!” Brett McGurk, the US anti-ISIS envoy said on Wednesday.
“However, the battle of Mosul is far from over,” Rasha Al Aqeedi, an Iraqi Research Fellow at Al Mesbar Studies and Research Center told ARA News. “The West side is still controlled by ISIS, and it is bound to be bloodier than the past 3 months fighting for the East side.”
“There is still fighting ahead in Mosul,” McGurk said. “But ISIS terrorists are being routed as Iraqi forces have momentum and the people on their side,” the top coalition official said.
The Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said it could take at least three months before Mosul and the rest of Iraq is completely liberated from ISIS, and Iraqi army officials are optimistic that ISIS is weakened in Mosul.
“So that tells me that there’s not gonna be a long wait before we start seeing ISIS killed in west Mosul,” said Colonel John Dorrian, US-led coalition’s spokesperson, suggesting that not all of Eastern Mosul has been cleared.
“Well, I would say we’re probably at the 85 or 90 percent point on eastern Mosul at this point,” he said.
Coalition officials say it’s difficult to predict how long the battle is going to take. “The reason for that is because one of the tactics that the enemy has used in the past is to have sleeper cells in this sort of thing that will pop up in areas that are largely pacified,” Col. Dorrian said.
He added that ISIS has brought a lot of resources forward from west Mosul into east Mosul. “And a lot of those capabilities and resources were expended and a lot of fighters were killed. So that’s something that obviously would indicate that there’s been some reduction in their capabilities over there.”
However, the problem is that 750,000 civilians remain trapped in West Mosul, beside 3,000 to 5,000 ISIS fighters. “It’s even more dense terrain in west Mosul than it is in east Mosul. So that would probably have a tendency to complicate factors,” he said.
“So there’s gonna have to be some significant clearing to make sure that these areas remain secure,” the American Colonel stated.
Masrour Barzani, head of the Kurdistan Regional Government’s (KRG) Security Council, has warned that Western Mosul could be tough, with a vast number of narrow streets that can’t accommodate large military vehicles and an enemy that will fight to the death.
“There are many different IEDs [improvised explosive devices] that they put in different places, come up with different tactics. Many that are used like networks,” Barzani told Reuters in November.
“So in one house they are putting one IED and trying to hide it. And once it explodes then the entire neighborhood explodes.”
Moreover, coalition officials say another problem is the indiscriminate fire by ISIS on liberated areas. “They continue to fire indiscriminate weapons like indirect fire, mortars and artillery into those liberated areas and harm civilians,” Colonel John Dorrian said.
“So the Iraqis will take whatever time is needed in order to deal with that threat,” he said.
Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News
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