Iraqi forces captured more ground in Mosul, edging closer to retaking the last enclaves held by ISIL.
And the militant group had been expelled from a town just south of the major offensive. CGTN’s Tony Cheng reports.
Iraqi armor rolled through the streets of west Mosul the Zanjili district. It’s the latest section of the city to be retaken by security forces.
The noose was getting tighter for those ISIL fighters who remain inside the city. Surrounded and outgunned, their defeat only a matter of time.
“Morale of our troops is high and their willingness to fight is strong, and that is why they are making good progress in a record time, and this is an important thing. ISIL is collapsing and we have to make use of it and finish the task assigned to us,” said Lt. General Qassem Al-Maliki of the Iraqi 9th armored division.
But they are proving to be a formidable enemy and civilians are bearing the brunt of their rage. 100 thousand civilians remain trapped in ISIL territory facing a dilemma to stay in a city facing starvation and heavy bombardment or to flee and risk getting caught in the crossfire
And as the ISIL fighters have been nearly surrounded, they’ve shown no mercy to those trying to escape. “Yesterday, they were shooting at them and they crossed here. Today, as they are fleeing, they are not getting shot at. Now they are not getting shot at. That’s because the Iraqi army has pushed ISIS back,” said Dave Eubanks, an aid volunteer.
Syrian State TV reported on Sunday that ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had been killed in an airstrike in their stronghold Raqqa. Those reports are unconfirmed.
The Pentagon said that it believes Baghdadi is still alive but there were few places for ISIL’s leader to hide. The city where he made his only public appearance was paying a price to be rid of his fighters
This was a tale of two cities. To the east, a city reborn where rebuilding is well under way and security remains stable. To the west on the other side of the Tigris, there’s a district under siege where the security forces had surrounded ISIL, who fought to the bitter end.