Iraq army launches fresh Mosul assault, targeting Mosul bridge
BAGHDAD/ERBILIraqi army units advanced from southeast Mosul towards a bridge across the Tigris in the city center on Dec. 6, in an attack that could give fresh impetus to the hard fought, seven-week battle for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’s northern Iraq stronghold.
Campaign commander Lieutenant General Abdul Ameer Rasheed Yarallah was quoted by Iraqi television as saying troops had entered Salam Hospital, less than a mile (1.5 km) from the Tigris River running through the center of Mosul.
If confirmed, that would mark a significant advance by the army’s Ninth Armoured Division, which had been tied up for more than a month in deadly, close-quarter combat with ISIL fighters on the southeast edges of the city.
A colonel in the armored division said the Dec. 6 assault, launched at 6:00 a.m., aimed to push towards the river and ultimately reach Mosul’s Fourth Bridge, the southernmost of the five bridges spanning the Tigris which splits the city in two.
The bridge, like three others, has been hit by U.S.-led air strikes to prevent ISIL sending reinforcements and suicide car bombs across the city to the eastern front, where counter-terrorism troops have spearheaded the army campaign.
The last and oldest bridge, built of iron in the 1930s, was targeted on the night of Dec. 5, two residents said.
The structure was not destroyed, but the air strikes made two large craters in the approach roads on both sides.
Militants immediately began to fill the craters, the residents told Reuters by telephone.