Iraqi forces apparently relying on inside rebels to fight IS in western Mosul

Iraqi rapid response members move from house to house through a hole in a wall to avoid being hit by Islamic State snipers in western Mosul, Iraq March 9, 2017. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra – RTS124MA

Nineveh ( Iraqi government forces are possibly relying on locals to bring down Islamic State militants inside western Mosul’s Old City, as statements from a senior security commander reveal.

Federal Police chief, Lt. Gen. Shaker Jawdat, said in statements on Monday that his forces, fighting militants in densely-populated and-structured Old City, was relying on drones as well as “internal revolutionary detachments” to “hunt Daesh(Islamic State) militants and destroy its defenses without causing harm to civilians or public and private property.”

Iraqi government troops launched a major offensive in February to retake western Mosul from Islamic State militants. The troops recaptured the eastern side of IS’s largest stronghold in Iraq in January.

Iraqi generals have viewed the Old City as vital for realizing victory against IS in the western side, but also admitted it was very difficult to advance through with military vehicles. Bad weather over the past few days has further hardened the troops’ mission, prompting the commanders to rely on drones and artillery strikes to bring down militants shielding themselves in the middle of civilians.

Since operations launched in October 2016 to retake Mosul, occasional news reports spoke about attacks and assassinations of IS members by unknown assailants at areas under the extremist group’s control, arousing doubts about whether some indignant civilians started to voluntarily take arms against militants.

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