Iraqi forces launch multi-front attack to reclaim Old Mosul from ISIS

The Iraqi army announced their newest offensive to reclaim the remaining districts in war-torn west Mosul on Saturday, most notably the Old Mosul district home to the Nuri Mosque where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared his so-called ISIS caliphate on June 29, 2014.

Abdulghani al-Asadi, commander of US-trained elite Iraqi Counter terrorism Service (ICTS), told Rudaw Iraqi forces have begun advancing on all fronts against ISIS militants in the last five neighborhoods in Mosul.

ISIS retains control of just five neighborhoods overall in Mosul, including the Old Mosul district, Shifa, Saha, Bab al-Sinjar and Zanjali

“Since 6 a.m. and from all the fronts, we launched the offensive and very good advances have been made so far,” Asadi said.

Asadi added that specifically the ICTS forces are advancing in the Shifa and Saha neighborhoods.

Abdulamir Rashid Yaralla, commander of the Mosul offensive,said that the Federal Police forces entered Zanjali neighborhood.

Rudaw’s Sidan Lashkiri embedded with the Iraqi fighting troops in the area also reported that the operations were launched today with heavy weapons being used to defeat ISIS in the five districts, particularly in Old Mosul.

Lashkiri added the army aims to control Old Mosul today completely, combining heavy weapon with fighter jet strikes.

The strategically important Old Mosul district, home to the Nuri Mosque and al-Hadba Minaret, also known as the Great Mosque, is where the ISIS leader Abu Bakir al-Baghdadi declared his so-called Islamic State caliphate on June 29, 2014.

Iraqi forces had previously faced strong resistance when they tried to make advances against ISIS militants in Old Mosul, where it is more densely populated and the streets are narrower than the eastern part of the city. As a result, Iraqi armed forces were forced to shift their focus and open a new front in northwestern Mosul earlier this month.

Mosul is the largest and last major urban area in Iraq which ISIS partially controls.

ISIS took over Mosul in June 2014. The group was cleared out of eastern Mosul in January 2017 and Iraqi and US officials expect final victory in the western side of the city in the coming weeks. Iraqi armed forces had repeatedly said the ultimate liberation of the city from ISIS will be declared before the start of the holy month of Ramadan on May 26.

The Iraq's Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi paramilitary units are simultaneously launching a fresh offensive to capture areas ISIS controls in northern Iraq, particularly in the Yezidi areas of the Shingal region.