A water bridge over the Tigris to reach the two parts of Mosul

Published May 23, 2017 - 15:51 GMT

A new bridge unites Mosul as Iraqi forces prepare for a final attack

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi military engineers built a new circular bridge across the Tigris on Tuesday to reach the city's outskirts to facilitate the deployment of troops ahead of a recent offensive to oust the Islamic state.

The US-led coalition bombed the five bridges linking the two sides of the Tigris river to block militant movements in the early stages of the campaign to restore Mosul last year.

Seven months later, Iraqi forces managed to expel the organization from all of the city except for a pocket in the western part of the Old City where the militants are expected to fight their last fight.

The Old City is expected to be the most complex battlefield in the battle to date.

Colonel Haytham al-Taei told Reuters the floating bridge was important for deploying reinforcements in the western sector quickly in order to properly mobilize troops to invade the Old City soon.

He said the bridge in the Hawi area of ​​the church would save fleeing civilians a long journey to the nearest crossing point about 30 km south of Mosul.

The United Nations said last week that as many as 200,000 more people may be displaced as Iraqi forces enter the rest of the city.

Militants are effectively holding hundreds of thousands of civilians hostage and taking human shields to slow down troop advances.