Wednesday, January 25, 2017 7:50 am
After more than 100 days of hard urban combat, Iraqi officials on Tuesday announced the liberation of eastern Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a statement from a Combined Joint Task Force ‘Operation Inherent Resolve’ has said.
The statement, made available to the UN correspondent of the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) by the U.S. Department of Defense, said clearance operations were ongoing.
It said the Iraqi security forces now controlled all areas inside the city east of the Tigris River, the east bank of the river around all five bridges crossing the Tigris River, Mosul University and the Ninevah Ruins.
“Since Oct. 17, the coalition has conducted 558 air strikes in assistance of the Iraqi forces, using 10,115 munitions against ISIL targets.
“These munitions have destroyed at least 151 vehicle bombs, 361 buildings/facilities, 140 tunnels, 408 vehicles, 392 bunkers, 24 anti-air artillery systems, and 315 artillery/mortar systems.”
The statement said during the offensive, the Iraqis fended off an average of five vehicle bombs a day, and endured daily mortar and sniper attacks, as well as surveillance and frequent attacks by ISIL unmanned aerial systems dropping grenades on friendly forces.
“This is a monumental achievement for not only the Iraqi security forces and sovereign government of Iraq, but all Iraqi people,” the statement quoted Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the commanding general of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, the multi-national counter-ISIL coalition tasked with the military defeat of ISIL in Iraq and Syria, as saying.
“This would have been a difficult task for any army in the world.
“And to see how far the Iraqis have come since 2014, not only militarily, but in their ability to put their differences aside and focus on a common enemy, gives real hope to the people of Iraq that after years of fighting and instability, peace and security are attainable.
“There is still a long way to go before ISIL is completely eliminated from Iraq, and the fight for western Mosul is likely to be even tougher than the eastern side,” he said.
Since the start of operations in October 2014, the coalition has trained more than 50,000 Iraqi fighters and launched more than 17,000 strikes on ISIL targets in support of its partners on the ground, it said.
“Over the past two years, with coalition training and equipment, the Iraqis rebuilt their military and liberated more than two million people and major population centers such as Ramadi, Fallujah, Tikrit, Kirkuk, Qayyarah and Sharqat.
“Now they are well on their way to the complete liberation of Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, the statement quoted the coalition officials as saying.