On Saturday, the Iraqi forces closed in on the Tigris River running through the city of Mosul. The forces have advanced parallel to other troops, which has forced the Islamic State to retreat. Mosul is the last major stronghold that the terrorist group has in the country. So far, they have had to abandon almost half the areas east of the Tigris River that were under their control. The city is bisected by the river, which means the Islamic State is still in control of the west. However, it does indicate that once the Iraqi forces reach the river, it will become even harder for them to defend Mosul.
Meanwhile, Baghdad said that it had reached an agreement with Ankara regarding a demand of withdrawing the Turkish forces from an area near Mosul as the two regional powers are trying to improve ties after being involved in a year-long battle over the deployment of the military. The prime minister of Turkey visited Iraq. He didn’t state that a deal had been made, but he did say that the issue was being discussed and would be resolved. In October, the US backed the military campaign to drive Islamic State out of Mosul.
The tension between the two neighboring countries is just one indication of the oncoming struggle for influence over the second city of Iraq even after the jihadists will eventually be driven out. While the battle for Mosul is yet to be one, it is definitely progressing quickly. The counter-terrorism forces of Iraq staged an unprecedented nighttime assault on Friday in district near the Tigris River. This enabled them to reach several hundred meters of the river on Saturday and a strategic bridge. In recent days, they have managed to make certain advancements, which driven the militants out of some more places east of the river.
A spokesman for the counter-terrorism service (CTS) said that better coordination and new tactics were helping. On Twitter a coalition spokesman had announced that the fourth bridge had been damaged by the Islamic State as a ‘desperate act’ because they were losing ground. The US-led air strikes had already hit the bridge in order to prevent the militants from sending reinforcements. Also known as al-Baath, the Ghufran district was also seized by the CTS and they had also entered Wahda in southeastern Mosul. According to a separate military statement, a hospital complex in Wahda had been recaptured by the Iraqi federal police.
Last month, the US-backed forces had had to withdraw from the site due to fierce counter-attacks by the jihadists due to which this was seen a major turnaround. The terrorist organization is being worn down gradually due to the parallel attacks. On Saturday, some CTS commanders met at an outpost in eastern Mosul. Areas that have been recaptured from the Islamic State are returning to normal slowly, even though their homes and infrastructure have suffered from heavy damage. Just a few weeks earlier, clashes had raged the streets, but now residents are lining there selling eggs, produce and meat.