Iraqi Forces Drive ISIS Out of Town East of Mosul

U.S. Army Apache attack helicopters have entered the battle for Mosul in support of Iraqi forces fighting the Islamic State terror group, the head of the famed 101st Airborne Division running the coalition's ground component told reporters Wednesday.

The Islamic State group released a new propaganda video this week showing masked fighters patrolling Mosul, vowing to "humiliate America" in Iraq amid the ongoing offensive against the militant group.

"God willing, we will take this town today", said Major General Maan al-Saadi.

The militants fought back, unleashing at least four suicide vehicle bombs against the advancing forces, one of which blew up after it was struck by tank fire.

The general said that the Russian military are particularly concerned with a scenario, in which militants from Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), who are now holding the Iraqi city, would "try to escape Mosul or be granted safe passage out of it towards Syria".

The Iraqi army elite unit and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have started trying to take back villages north and east of Mosul.

Volesky said he was concerned any ISIS attacks away from Mosul inside Iraq could stall the operation to liberate the country's second-largest city.

"There are real fears that the offensive to retake Mosul could produce a humanitarian catastrophe resulting in one of the largest man-made displacement crises in recent years", said William Spindler, spokesman for the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees. Gen. Gary J. Volesky said.

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"We are telling Daesh (Arabic acronym for "IS") that their leaders are abandoning them". This could come into play in the Mosul operation when advisers, who in most cases are authorized to accompany local troops only up to where they can protect themselves, make decisions about where that point stands.

With his caliphate crumbling, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was attacked by sharia policemen in a failed coup.

There are reports that some IS leaders have fled, but there are thought to be up to 5,000 IS fighters still in the city.

Williams says the reality, however, is that it's very slow going as the Iraqi troops and Kurdish forces clear these towns and villages, even though most of their residents fled a long time ago.

"We can't afford mistakes in the pursuit of the terrorists who are already leaving Mosul for Raqqa", Hollande said.

This suggests that a military victory over the IS will not suffice, and the Mosul operation would be a test of the Iraqi government's capacity to mend the sectarian conflict that enabled the rise of the IS in the first place.

Three days into the assault began on Mosul, US-backed Iraqi government and Kurdish forces are steadily recovering outlying territory before the big thrust into the city itself, expected to be the biggest battle in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion. "I want to avenge them and I'm ready to die".

"There are real fears that the offensive to retake Mosul could produce a humanitarian catastrophe, resulting in one of the largest man-made displacement crises in recent years", a United Nations refugee agency spokesperson said.

  • Megan Austin