The U.S.-led anti-Islamic State coalition dropped 10,115 munitions on the terrorist group in the fight to retake eastern Mosul, according to the Department of Defense.
Operation Inherent Resolve forces engaged in 558 total air strikes since Oct. 17 in support of the Iraqi Security Forces offensive in Mosul and surrounding areas. The fight for the eastern portion of the city, which acts as a de facto ISIS capital in Iraq, lasted more than 100 days and involved brutal street-to-street combat.
“This would have been a difficult task for any army in the world,” said Army Lt. Gen. Stephen Townshend, commander of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, in a news release Tuesday. “And to see how far the Iraqis have come since 2014, not only militarily, but in their ability to put their differences aside and focus on a common enemy, gives real hope to the people of Iraq that after years of fighting and instability, peace and security are attainable.”
Iraqi Security Forces now control all areas east of the Tigris River, which splits Mosul in half. While a substantial portion of the city remains under ISIS control, the victory in east Mosul represents the end of the terrorist group’s two-year dominance over more than one million people.
ISIS forces “resorted to using children and other civilians as shields against coalition and Iraqi air and artillery strikes and used protected facilities such as hospitals, mosques and schools as weapons storage facilities and bases for its terrorist operations,” according to the Pentagon. ISIS is well known for its cowardly use of human shields, although coalition forces have been remarkably careful to avoid accidentally hitting civilians. A Pentagon assessment released in November found that less than 0.1 percent of strikes against ISIS involved civilian casualties.
The ISF and the coalition forces still have a tough fight ahead. Western Mosul is still full of ISIS fighters who have had time to dig in and set up booby traps. The ISF reportedly began assembling pontoon bridges Sunday in preparation to cross into the western portion of the city.
“ISIS will likely use the density of western Mosul to attrite the ISF in an urban fight and limit the ISF’s ability to call in air support or heavy artillery,” wrote the Institute for the Study of War’s Emily Anagnostos in a briefing Monday.
The ISF will also need to help evacuate an estimated 750,000 civilians in western Mosul, according to Anagnostos.
While the ISIS land caliphate is on the verge of total defeat, the ISF and coalition will certainly be met with fierce resistance as the terrorist group grows increasingly desperate.
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