Nineveh (IraqiNews.com) As Iraqi security forces come closer to recapturing the eastern section of Mosul from Islamic State militants, Iraqi and American military generals foresee differing degrees of difficulty of forthcoming battles in the west.
Maj. Gen. Maan al-Saadi, commander of the second division of the army’s elite Counter-Terrorism Forces, was quoted by All Iraq News website as saying that battles in the west would be easier because that region hosts “fewer residents”.
According to Saadi, a member of the force that spearheads Iraqi operations in Mosul, “military operations targeting the western side of Mosul will be easier due to the fewer number of civilians at that area, besides the severe losses sustained by Daesh (Islamic State) terrorists in the eastern region of the city”.
He said his force would complete its mission in eastern Mosul within hours, after which it shall proceed to the west.
But speaking to Pentagon reporters in Baghdad on Tuesday, U.S. Air Force Col. John Dorrian, a spokesperson of the US-led military coalition against IS, said the battle could get more difficult in the west, labelling that region as “even more dense terrain”, being a home to 750.000 Iraqis.
Iraqi premier Haider al-Abadi said in a press conference on Tuesday that forces had already started “moving” in the west, but did not explain what kind of military activity was conducted.
The only fighting group operating in the west has been Al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units), the government-backed conglomerate of Shia militias combating IS on the side of the Iraqi government that had been recognized by the government as a national force.
Yahia Rasoul, a spokesperson of the Joint Operations Command, said only four districts were left to declare eastern Mosul entirely free from IS.