TEHRAN (Press Shia) – Advancing Iraq troops broke through Daesh (ISIS or ISIS) defense lines in an eastern suburb of Mosul Monday, taking the battle for the terrorists’ stronghold into the city limits for the first time, a force commander said.
Troops of the Iraqi army’s Counterterrorism Service moved forward on Gogjali, an industrial zone on the eastern outskirts. They then reached Karama district, their first advance into the city itself, an officer said, The Daily Star reported.
“They have entered Mosul,” he said. “They are fighting now in Hay (district) al-Karama.”
A Kurdish Peshmerga intelligence source said he received a report saying seven Daesh militants were killed in the Aden district, adjacent to Karama, and two of their vehicles destroyed. Iraqi state television said there were clashes inside the city between residents and Daesh militants.
The fighting ahead is likely to be more difficult as civilians still live there, unlike most villages taken so far by the Iraqi forces which were emptied of their Christian population.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, speaking at the Qayyarah military air base south of Mosul, said the Iraqi forces were trying to close off all escape routes for the several thousand Daesh terrorists inside Mosul.
“God willing, we will chop off the snake’s head,” Abadi, wearing military fatigues, told state television. “They have no escape, they either die or surrender.”
The recapture of Mosul would mark the Takfiri militants’ effective defeat in the Iraqi half of the territory they had seized.
Mosul is still home to 1.5 million residents, making it four of five times bigger than any other city they controlled in both Iraq and Syria.
Hadi al-Amiri, leader of the Badr Organization, warned Sunday that “the battle of Mosul will not be a picnic” and could last months.
“We are afraid that Mosul would be another Aleppo, but we hope that will not happen,” Amiri told reporters in Zarqa, south of Mosul.
Iraqi security forces and Peshmerga fighters started the offensive against the Takfiri group on Oct. 17.