Iraqi forces close in on last ISIS-held city

By Gabrielle Beacken
Staff Writer

Supported by the U.S., plans for Iraqi troops to reclaim the country’s second largest city controlled by ISIS may take place this October, according to CNN.

The fight to take back Mosul, Iraq, is anticipated to be a difficult feat, as it has become an important and strategic base for ISIS. To supplement Iraqi forces attempting to liberate the city, hundreds of U.S. troops have arrived at an air base near Mosul, according to CNN. In preparation to take back Mosul, Iraqi forces have taken back a northern town, Shirqat, where, according to Al Jazeera, one civilian and five security personnel were killed. The recapture of this town is seen as a military “stepping stone” in taking back Mosul, Al Jazeera reported.

“Shirqat is important… We can’t move on Mosul and have terrorists control Sherqat,” Joint Operations Command spokesperson Yahya Rasool told AFP news, according to Al Jazeera. “We are making good progress.”

An additional U.S.-led coalition took place in Qayyarah, where this past July, the U.S. helped Iraqi troops recapture its air base from the grasp of ISIS, CNN reported. American troops based at the Qayyarah air base offer logistics and supplies to support Iraqi forces, CNN said.

“When the (Iraqi Security Force) is ready to move on in their operations to get after Mosul, we’ll be prepared to support that, and the airfield will be ready,” Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian said, according to CNN. “The secretary (of defense) has made clear that our forces in Iraq are in harm’s way. Everyone who is serving there is in a dangerous situation.”

The Pentagon has reported that while there are thousands of U.S. soldiers in Iraq assisting and arming soldiers, the design to recapture Mosul does not “plan on directly sending U.S. troops into combat,” CNN reported.

Mosul has become a hotbed for ISIS fighters, according to Al Jazeera, as there are estimated to be 3,000 to 4,500 presently living in Mosul. Before ISIS’s takeover of Mosul in 2014, there was an approximate population of two million people, while Al Jazeera notes that the present population is hard to discern, the United Nations have predicted that about 1 million civilians “may still be living under ISIS rule.”

In anticipation of this upcoming attack, thousands of leaflets have been dropped in Southern Mosul by Iraqi security forces. CNN reported that these leaflets warn citizens, such as those that read, “Protect yourself, don’t be human shields for the enemy, leave the town immediately.”

Citizens have been warned because both Iraq and U.S. forces are expecting the recapture of Mosul to be very challenging.

“There is still a tough fight ahead against an adaptive enemy that will try to challenge us as we hone in on Mosul,” Harrigian said, according to CNN.

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