GOGJALI — The Iraqi army pounded Islamic State (ISIS) targets in Mosul on Thursday (December 8) as part of their bid to drive out the militant group from the city.
The artillery of the army’s Ninth Armored Division pounded the district of al-Quds from the army’s positions in the nearby district of Gogjali.
The long-awaited attack aims to relieve pressure on Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) troops who have spearheaded the fighting in eastern Mosul for the last month and have come up against the militants’ lethal defenses.
Officers say they are engaged in fierce urban warfare, facing hundreds of suicide car bombers, snipers and militants exploiting a network of tunnels underneath residential areas to launch counter-attacks.
Meanwhile, Western-backed Iraqi forces have begun shelling parts of west Mosul, residents said, in preparation for a new front against ISIS seven weeks into a difficult campaign to drive the militants from the city.
Federal police forces, stationed a few miles south of Mosul, on the west bank of the Tigris River that divides the city, have long said they aim to advance towards the airport on the southwestern edge.
Some 100,000 Iraqi soldiers, security forces, Peshmerga fighters and mainly Shia paramilitary forces are participating in the assault that began on October 17, with air and ground support from a U.S.-led international military coalition.
The city is sealed off to the north, south and east, while to the west the Shia forces have cut the road to Syria and have advanced close to the ISIS-held town of Tal Afar, about 60 km (40 miles) from Mosul.
Militants still hold three-quarters of Mosul, where around 1 million residents are living under increasingly siege-like conditions as winter sets in.