Poor weather: Iraqi troops pause at edge of Mosul
Iraqi special forces were holding their positions along Mosul’s eastern outskirts on Wednesday as poor weather hampered visibility in operations to rout Islamic State (IS) fighters from the country’s second-largest city.
Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil said no advances were planned for the day as high humidity and clouds were obscuring the view of aircraft and drones – a key component to the operations provided by a US-led air campaign.
From the Mosul neighborhood of Gogjali, which is within city limits but just outside more urban districts, the guns went largely silent on Wednesday, though sporadic rifle cracks could be heard as well as some army artillery fire on IS positions.
The pause came a day after Iraqi troops set foot in the city for the first time in more than two years, gearing up for urban warfare expected to take weeks, if not months.
In the next stage, troops will have to navigate streets likely lined with booby traps, fighting house-to-house while trying to avoid killing civilians, over one million of whom are still in the city.
Fighting to clear the IS extremists is expected to take weeks, if not months. Mosul is the last IS stronghold in Iraq and driving the militant group from the city would be a major blow to its ambitions of creating a cross-border “caliphate” stretching into Syria.
The IS had announced the project in Mosul in 2014, after it routed the much larger Iraqi military, which had been neglected and demoralised by corruption. However, concern over the fate of civilians has been growing, after it was learnt that IS militants were rounding up residents to be used as human shields.