Iraqi troops to enter Mosul in ‘matter of hours,’ counter-terrorism chief says
Iraqi special forces are hundreds of meters from ISIS-controlled Mosul and will enter in a “matter of hours”, the country’s counter-terrorism chief said Monday.
“The soldiers of the Counterterrorism Force are advancing very fast. I wouldn’t say a matter of days but matter of hours before advancing and (to) start cleansing the city of Mosul from terrorism,” General Talib Shegati said in an interview with state-run Iraqiya TV.
A coalition of around 100,000 Iraqi-led forces have been in a decisive push toward Mosul since October 17 to end more than two years of the militant group’s brutal rule.
On Monday, they launched a new phase in the offensive, advancing on three separate fronts.
Experts have said that entering Mosul will likely trigger the fiercest fighting seen yet in the offensive, and that the battle is expected to be fought “street to street.”
Mosul has been an ISIS stronghold for more than two years, and although the ISIS fighters are vastly outnumbered, they have put up fierce resistance in pockets of the territory around the city.
Since the offensive began, they have carried out mass executions of civilians, lit toxic sulfur and oil fires to fend of coalition forces, and used civilians as human shields to ward of air strikes.