World, Middle East

Iraq temporarily suspends operations in eastern Mosul

Military source cites stiff resistance by Daesh and inadequate air cover as reasons for move

Iraq temporarily suspends operations in eastern Mosul

By Ahmed Qassim


Iraq’s anti-terrorism agency has temporarily suspended military operations in the eastern part of the Daesh-held city of Mosul while stressing that Iraqi forces were not being withdrawn from the area, according to an Iraqi military source.

"Anti-terrorism forces remain concentrated in parts of the city’s Al-Intisar and Al-Samah al-Thaniya districts and in the state radio and television complex in eastern Mosul," an Iraqi army captain told Anadolu Agency anonymously due to restrictions on communicating with media.

He attributed the move to the widespread practice by Daesh militants of using civilians as "human shields" and the militants’ continued use of a complex network of tunnels dug under the city.

The source went on to note that Iraqi anti-terrorism forces had suffered significant human and material losses -- he did not provide exact numbers -- as a result of "ambushes, roadside explosives and suicide bombings" by Daesh.

"Daesh has also sustained large human and material losses," he added, "but this hasn’t affected the group’s morale due to its heavy reliance on mercenaries."

The same source also voiced dissatisfaction with air cover being provided to Iraqi forces in and around Mosul by a 60-nation U.S.-led air coalition.

"A request was sent to the army’s general command to discuss the inadequacy of air cover with U.S.-led coalition commanders," he said.

On Oct. 18, the army, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, launched a wide-ranging operation aimed at retaking Mosul, which Daesh overran in mid-2014, along with vast swathes of territory in northern and western Iraq.

Recent months have seen the Iraqi army and its allies retake much territory from the terrorist group, especially on Mosul’s outskirts and in Iraq’s western Anbar province.

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