In Mosul, the Iraqi army and police are clawing back strategic facilities from jihadist militants each day, Lt. Colonel Hakim Abbas told Sputnik, adding that police units were now poised to recapture the city’s Great Mosque of al-Nuri.
“Twenty-three explosives-laden vehicles have been destroyed as our bombers and multiple rocket launchers pound the militants’ positions,” Hakim Abbas told Sputnik Arabic.
He added that the government forces had encircled a large group of militants near the Mosque where Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his first public address after the capture of Mosul.
Lt. Col. Abbas explained that the recent spate of explosions that ripped through Baghdad and its environs were terrorist attempts to divert public attention from their setbacks in Mosul.
“The militants are also trying to slow down our advance on their positions and force the military leadership to divert some of our forces to the capital. The security forces are working day and night to prevent terror attacks,” Hakim Abbas continued.
He confirmed earlier reports about the terrorists killing those of their own who try to flee or surrender to the Iraqi army and police
“They are doing this to intimidate others so that they don’t even think about following suit. Some militants have still managed to run away and surrender. They are being interrogated and will face trial,” Hakim Abbas said.
The Iraqi military is advancing in western Mosul and has already liberated a governance complex the terrorists had used as their headquarters.
The Iraqi operation to recapture Mosul, the key stronghold of Daesh in Iraq, began in October 2016 and resulted in the liberation of Mosul’s eastern part this January, but fighting continues in the city's western areas.