Iraqi forces on way to Mosul face tough battle
Iraqi forces advancing on Mosul faced stiff resistance from the Islamic State (IS) group, despite an unprecedented wave of US-led coalition airstrikes in support of the week-old offensive.
Federal forces and Kurdish peshmerga fighters gained ground in several areas, but the jihadists were hitting back with shelling, sniper fire, suicide car bombs and booby traps. IS has also tried to draw attention away from losses around Mosul by attacking Iraqi forces elsewhere, the latest coming on Sunday near the Jordanian border.
Following a weekend visit to Iraq by US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter, American officials said the coalition was providing the most air support yet. “One week into Mosul operation, all objectives met thus far, and more coalition airstrikes than any other 7-day period of war against ISIL (IS),” Brett McGurk, top US envoy to the 60-nation coalition, wrote on social media.
“There were 32 strikes with 1,776 munitions delivered” against IS targets between October 17 and 23, coalition spokesman Colonel John Dorrian said. He said 136 IS fighting positions, 18 tunnels and 26 car bombs were destroyed.
Defence ministers from 13 countries of the coalition, including Carter, will meet in Paris today to take stock of the offensive and discuss possible scenarios following a recapture of the city. NATO defence ministers are set to meet in Brussels on Wednesday.