Iraqi and Kurdish forces are about 5 miles from Mosul’s outskirts and are clearing towns and villages to the north, east and south of Iraq’s second-largest city, Pentagon Press Operations director Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters today.
The United States is seeing what Davis called “unprecedented cooperation” between the Iraqi and Kurdish forces, which are now at the halfway mark between Bartella, which lies about 13 miles east of Mosul, and Mosul city limits.
In the tenth day of movement toward Mosul to liberate the city from two years of control by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists, Davis said progress is evident.
“We’re 10 days in, and broadly I can tell you we’ve seen initial steady gains,” in spite of some pockets of intense resistance by ISIL, Davis said.
The U.S.-led coalition continues to support the Iraqi operation to liberate Mosul’s 1.4 million people, he said. “We’ve had more than 2,400 munitions delivered since Oct. 17 from coalition aircraft, and artillery to include [High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems].”
Areas Cleared Around Mosul
Kurdish forces entered and cleared Bartella earlier this week, Davis said.
To the north, Kurdish forces entered and cleared the town of Batnay, meeting minimal ISIL resistance there, he said.
The security forces have also cleared the recently liberated town of Khorsabad and are conducting back-clearing operations there, Davis said. “They are identifying [homemade bombs] and are also exploiting material left for intelligence,” he said, adding the forces are now encircling Tall Kayf.
Toward the south, Qara Qush has been secured, and from the southeast, the Iraqis have pushed up past Al Kuwayr, and are halfway to Al Khidir, he said.
The town of Rutba has also been cleared and the Iraqi flag now flies over its city council building, Davis noted.
ISIL Tactics Outlined
“Throughout the battlefield, we’ve seen ISIL set new obscuration fires, build new defensive positions, new obstacles and new [homemade bombs],” the Pentagon press operations director said. “The offensive against Mosul is a large and extraordinarily complex operation, which the Iraqis have been planning for a very long time. ISIL continues to control the swath of territory to the west and down to southwest, but it is mostly open terrain,” he added.
Davis reported that the coalition is also observing ISIL experiencing a tough time in its so-called caliphate, unable to contain its command and control or govern the space it loosely controls.
ISIL Oil Revenues Slashed
“The more than 500 strikes we’ve made against ISIL’s oil infrastructure have reduced its illicit revenue from oil by 60 percent,” he said.
Davis added that a good metric to use in the gains against the enemy is the significantly decreased population figures of those in Iraq and Syria under ISIL control. “The population it controls has been reduced from a high of nearly 7 million [people] to just over 4 million,” he said.
“Other intriguing signs from the battlefield [include] the amount of anti-ISIL graffiti in the cities under enemy control, Davis said, adding, “People are no longer afraid to express their distaste for living under ISIL rule.”
(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)