Thursday, 30 March 2017

Battle for Mosul: Soldiers facing most brutal street fighting since WWII to defeat ISIS

Battle for Mosul: Soldiers facing most brutal street fighting since WWII to defeat ISIS



ISIS has had 30 months to build up its defences in the narrow streets of the old town of West Mosul, said Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, the commander of the Combined Joint Task Force-Operation Inherent Resolve.
Fanatics from ISIS, also known as IS or daesh, are packing frontline buildings with civilian hostages wired up with explosives.

He said: “Our enemy, ISIS, are evil and murderous butchers, engaged in purposeful and mass slaughter."There are countless mass graves surrounding Mosul. ISIS put those bodies in there, not the coalition.” He added: “To put things in a little perspective for you, this is the most significant urban combat to take place since World War II; it is tough and brutal. House by house, block by block fights.”

Gen Townsend said there was “a fair chance” that a US airstrike killed up to 200 civilians in West Mosul earlier this month.

He said multiples air strikes were carried out in that area and said: “My initial assessment is that we probably had a role in these casualties.”
But he said an investigation is underway amid concerns that the civilians had been used as human shields by ISIS and that the building had been rigged with explosives.
He said: “What I don’t know is, were they gathered there by the enemy? We still have some assessments to do. I would say this -- that it sure looks like they were.”

He added: “The fact that the whole building collapsed actually contradicts our involvement. The munition that we used should not have collapsed an entire building.”
Gen Townsend said that ISIS are resorting to increasingly desperate tactics, shooting civilians that try to flee the battle zone.



He said: “In the past few days, we have observed civilians fleeing from ISIS held buildings. We have heard reports that ISIS was shooting civilians trying to leave Mosul.
“The Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service reported they found two houses rigged to blow and filled with hostages, one - 45 in one house, 25 in another.”
“They managed to defuse the explosives and release the hostages without harm.”
He added: “Although our partners in the coalition have made mistakes that have harmed civilians, we have never targeted them, not once.
“On the other hand, the savages that are ISIS deliberately target, terrorise and kill innocent civilians every day.”

Gen Townsend gave his briefing in Baghdad as RAF warplanes continue to pound IS positions around Mosul in support of advancing Iraqi and Kurdish troops.
Iraqi Special Forces and police today fought ISIS militants near the city’s landmark al-Nuri mosque where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed a caliphate nearly three years ago across territory controlled by the group in both Iraq and Syria.

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