As refugees flee, the Islamic State militants continue to lose their grip as their commander falls to the Iraqi military and police units pushing into the city.
Iraqi government forces killed Abu Abdul Rahman al-Ansary today as intense urban combat in Mosul’s Bab al-Tob district rages on. Al-Ansary was the commander of Islamic State military forces in the Old City section of Mosul, one of the militants’ last strongholds in Iraq. His death deals a significant blow to the remaining IS militants as much of their leadership has already fled.
Iraqi military and police units are fighting house-to-house, street-by-street as they continue to rid Mosul of ‘Daesh’ fighters in a campaign that began last October. The Iraqi’s have already recaptured a key train station as well as two of Mosul’s five bridges. They are currently within 100 meters of a third bridge, called the “Iron Bridge,” but are facing aggressive sniper fire. Despite strong resistance from the remaining IS militants, the Iraqi’s are making steady progress with the help of armored vehicles, tanks, and coalition air support.
“We are still moving toward the Iron Bridge. We are taking out snipers hiding in the surrounding building, we are still pushing for the Iron Bridge,” Brigadier General Mahdi Abbas Abdullah of the Iraqi Interior Ministry’s Rapid Response force told Reuters news service.
Despite the progress, an estimated 600,000 non-combatants are still stuck in the city. According to the Ministry of Immigration and Displacement, over 200,000 have already fled the city since October; with 13,000 of that total leaving in the past few days as the Iraqi government tightens the noose on the remaining IS forces.