DAMASCUS, SYRIA (4:50 P.M.) – Intensified counter-insurgency efforts are bearing fruit in Mosul as the Iraqi Armed Forces liberated three more ISIS-held neighborhoods on Saturday.
Amid the last stage of the Mosul battle, the Iraqi Army was able to wrestle control of the Iqtisadiyeen district, Al-Rabi’ district and highly fortified ’17th Tammuz’ district; the latter holds symbolic significance for the caliphate as it was the first large suburb to fall into ISIS hand in 2014.
Effectively, the Islamic State now controls merely three districts in Mosul city; namely the Al-Shafaa, Al-Zinjiji, and Old City neighborhoods. These ISIS-held areas are centered along three bridges on the western bank of the Tigris River.
The Old City district is nevertheless the most densely populated neighborhood across Mosul and houses the Al-Nouri mosque where ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi declared the caliphate in 2014. Unfortunately for government troops, it is also composed of small buildings and narrow streets that favor ISIS-style guerrila warfare.
A few isolated sniper nests are still scattered elsewhere while Iraqi sappers constantly endanger themselves by having to deal with booby traps and mines in liberated residential areas.
With the seasoned 9th Division and 15th Division of the Iraqi Army already departed for duties elsewhere, the final mopping-up operations in Mosul are left to the Rapid Response Division and Iraqi Federal Police to deal with.
On Saturday afternoon, the Counter Terrorism Units notably announced they had finished their operations in Mosul and would be transferred to other fronts upon demand of Baghdad.
Around 500 ISIS insurgents are still fighting in Mosul while hundreds more sleeper cells are said to be active in government-held areas.