The U.S. military is still carrying out strikes in Mosul despite a declaration of victory over ISIS from Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi Monday.
Operation Inherent Resolve’s (OIR) strike release noted three airstrikes in Mosul consisting of 45 engagements against ISIS targets. These strikes “engaged three ISIS tactical units; destroyed 18 fighting positions, seven medium machine guns, and two rocket-propelled grenade systems; and damaged 12 fighting positions.”
OIR Commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend cautioned reporters that pockets of ISIS fighters remain in the city of Mosul but that the city by and large is “firmly” controlled by the Iraqi Security Forces. “There’s a lot of mopping up and back clearing to be done. There are holdouts and hideouts that need to be found. That’ll take a bit of time,” he declared.
The campaign to retake Mosul took the U.S. backed Iraqi Security Forces several months and cost thousands of lives. U.S. commanders frequently described the battle as some of the most fierce combat seen by a military since World War II. Some ISIS fighters are thought to have fled with the civilian population to try and join ISIS fighters in other Iraqi cities or Syria.
Townsend even described an instance in which an ISIS commander tried to lure Iraqi Security Forces into a mass suicide bombing attack with a phony surrender offer in the last hours of the battle. An Iraqi Security Forces commander apparently told the ISIS commander that surrender could occur, but only if the fighters exited their pocket “in small elements.” ISIS declined the request and the U.S. subsequently saw “a wave of suicide attacks” in the area. “It was a desperate ploy,” Townsend said.
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