Iraqi forces backed by coalition airstrikes, are making progress in the effort to liberate western Mosul from ISIS, said Defense Department spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis.
“The [Iraqis] have captured villages to the west of Mosul and they have penetrated the formal city limits from the south,” said Davis, adding, “We’ve seen some encouraging initial successes.”
Indeed, according to the commander of Iraq's federal police, Ra’ed Shaker Jawdat, ISIS militants are increasingly being cut off from each other and are fleeing their remaining strongholds. “The terrorist organization [ISIS],” he said, “are living in a state of shock [and] confusion and defeat and its fighters are fighting in isolated groups. Our field intelligence units indicate that the terrorist organization is falling apart and its leadership are running away from Mosul."
According to the Defense Department, Iraqi forces have liberating the Mosul airport, and the Ghazlani military base southwest of Mosul has been secured.
The fight ahead will nevertheless be challenging said Navy Captain Davis. Resistance around western Mosul is "moderate," Davis said, with the terrorists using improvised explosive devices and indirect fire to "harass and slow down" Iraqi forces. The terrorists have pulled back into west Mosul, he said, noting that the coalition expects a "very challenging fight," since ISIS is entrenched in the area.
"That's dense urban terrain, more dense than what we saw in east Mosul in a place where they are well-dug in," the captain said.
Meanwhile, Iraqi forces continue defensive holding operations in eastern Mosul, he said, and the coalition continues to hit ISIS targets around Mosul. Targets included ISIS tactical units, mortar systems, rocket launchers, anti-air artillery systems, fighting positions, vehicles and weapons caches.
Every day the United States is taking the fight to ISIS with the clear objective of systematically defeating and destroying the terrorist organization.