The Iraqi Armed Forces are weeks from absolute victory in Iraq’s second largest city following several important gains inside Mosul on Wednesday.
With the Iraqi Federal Police, and Rapid Response Division holding ISIS in check in central Mosul, the Counter Terrorism Units and 9th Division were able to impose full control over the ‘2nd Al-Haramat’ and Al-Ma’amel districts in western Mosul by noon.
Later in the day, the Iraqi High Command announced that the 9th Division had finished its mission in Mosul. With its heavy tanks unsuitable for urban warfare and narrow streets, this seasoned division will likely join forces with the 15th Division in the coming battle for Tal Afar, an encircled ISIS bastion further west in the Nineveh governorate.
Nevertheless, government forces proceeded to storm the Al-Aslah Al-Zraae and ’17th Tammuz’ suburbs. After breaking through the jihadist defensive line in the residential area, Iraqi troops closed in on the Aqtasadeen neighborhood. Heavy clashes continued in the evening hours amid reports of new suicide bombings.
With Iraqi forces slowly chipping away at the ISIS-held pocket, over 30 jihadist militants were killed by airstrikes alone on Wednesday. However, Amaq Agency claimed dozens of civilians had been killed by the joint US and Iraqi bombardment too.
With elite infantry units sweeping through the northwestern sector, one of the highest ranking ISIS commanders left in Mosul was killed on Wednesday. The commander was identified as Abu Ayoud Al-Sham and was a Syrian citizen.
With the departure of the 9th Division, mopping up operations will be left exclusively to the Rapid Response Division, Iraqi Federal Police and Counter Terrorism Units. Thousands of civilians are caught in the crossfire on a daily basis, severely hampering Iraqi advances.
Baghdad and Washington have repeatedly accused ISIS of using civilians and some 5,000 prisoners as human shields to deter airstrikes and shelling on their areas, most specifically around the densely populated Old City neighborhood and the ISIS controlled Al-Nouri Mosque where Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi declared the caliphate in 2014.
Elsewhere in Nineveh province, the 15th Division and Popular Mobilization Units (PMU) foiled a big ISIS breakout attempt on the western outskirts of Tal Afar, killing 15 ISIS militants, wounding 25 and capturing 3 technicals in the process.
As the exclusive Al-Masdar News map above reveals, no more than 5% of Mosul city remains under Islamic State control.