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Dramatic First Person Footage Captures Intensity Of Fight For Mosul

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As we reported on Sunday night, the Iraq offensive for Mosul - with the support of US forces - has begun, and according to Reuters, the push to kick ISIS forces out of the Iraqi town has met some early success as armed forces closing in on Mosul said on Tuesday they had secured some 20 villages on the outskirts of the city in the first 24 hours of an operation to retake what is Islamic State's last major stronghold in Iraq. With air support from a U.S.-led coalition, government and Kurdish forces edged closer to the city as smoke darkened the blue sky above one IS position, apparently from oil fires ignited to hamper the incursion and make it harder to land air strikes.

 

Reuters reporters said they witnessed Islamic State mortar fire in villages on the plain east of the city as the militants sought to counter a push by Kurdish forces. One car bomb exploded during the fighting, although it was not immediately clear if it had been detonated or hit by incoming fire.

 

With a population of 1.5 million, Mosul is the largest city under the control of the Islamic State group that seized swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014, and its recapture would be a "decisive moment" in defeating the militants, according to U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter. However, as the International Red Cross warned, the fight for Mosul may lead to as many as 1 million refugees. The U.N. refugee agency said it had built five camps to house 45,000 people and plans to have an additional six in the coming weeks with a capacity for 120,000, that would still not be enough to cope if the exodus is as big as feared.

 

Even more troubling is that the urban battle ahead - in a city four to five times larger than other towns seized by Islamic State - poses not only a humanitarian challenge, but a military one. About 4,000 to 8,000 militants are thought to be dug into Mosul while the forces assembled to drive them out are estimated at 30,000, including Iraqi army, Kurdish and Sunni tribal fighters. More than 5,000 U.S. soldiers are also deployed in support missions, as are troops from France, Britain, Canada and other Western nations. The Iraqi army is attacking Mosul on the southern and southeastern fronts, while the Peshmerga carried out their operation to the east.

 

The Peshmerga, who are also deployed north and northwest of the city, said they secured "a significant stretch" of the 80 km (50 mile) road between Erbil, their capital, and Mosul, about an hour's drive to the west.

 

To give readers a sense of what the fight for Mosul looks like on the ground, here is dramatic first-person footage from a Peshmerga soldier, courtesy of Rudaw English, showing the intensity of the fight for the biggest ISIS stronghold in Iraq (link).

 

First person footage from Peshmerga soldier. Shows intensity of fighting on the outskirts of Mosul -

 

— Gissur Simonarson (@GissiSim)

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