Iraqi forces preparing offensive on western Mosul, commander says

(Reuters/ Iraqi forces have started preparing an offensive to capture the western side of Mosul from Islamic State, campaign commander Lieutenant General Abdul Amir Rasheed Yarallah said.

Popular Mobilization “is preparing an operation in the next two, three days, to back up the operation to retake the right bank” of the city, on the western side of the Tigris river, Mosuliya TV cited him as saying on Tuesday.

Popular Mobilization is a coalition of predominantly Iranian-trained Shi’ite groups, formed in 2014 to take part in the war on Islamic State. It became officially part of the Iraqi armed forces last year.

Iraqi officials on Monday announced that the eastern side of the northern Iraqi city has been taken from Islamic State, after nearly 100 days of fighting. A statement by the Defense Ministry said the whole region had been retaken. Though the announcement was disputed by a spokesperson of the Joint Operations Command, Yahia Rasoul, who said a few areas were awaiting incursion, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi confirmed final victory over IS in the eastern region.

Military officials and observers are predicting a tougher battle in the west, where IS has already, according to reports, begun clearing residential areas from civilians, erecting roadblocks and deploying snipers.


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