Mosul (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi Federal Police forces killed 13 members of the Islamic State and shot down a drone guided by the militants on Thursday near Mosul’s Old City, the service’s commander said.
Lt. Gen. Shaker Jawdat said in statements his forces advanced towards the Old City’s Strategic Nuri al-Kabir Mosque from Bab al-Jadid area, killing 13 militants, and also downing a drone guided by the group and destroying seven booby-trapped vehicles at the nearby Tayaran district.
Artillery divisions also bombarded IS locations at “the Fifth Bridge” north of the Old City, Jawdat said, referring to one of the bridges linking western Mosul with its east.
Federal Police said Sunday they destroyed 60 percent of IS defences around Nuri al-Kabir Mosque. Police forces have been besieging the the IS-held mosque over the past few weeks preparing to storm it. Retaking the mosque will represent a symbolic victory, being the location where Islamic State founder, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared the establishment of the group’s rule in Iraq and Syria in 2014.
Since Iraqi forces, backed by a U.S.-led coalition, launched an offensive mid February to retake western Mosul from IS militants, operations have occasionally slowed down around the Old City, an area which Iraqi generals view as pivotal for the awaited victory over IS. Iraqi commanders were quoted saying they were slowing operations and ceasing airstrikes at the area to avoid civilian casualties. Islamic State’s reliance on snipers and suicide attackers, as well as the narrow structure of the Old City’s streets, have also contributed to the slowing pace of security efforts.