Iraq Forces Reach Key Mosul Bridge

SOUTH OF MOSUL: Iraqi forces battling Daesh in west Mosul reached the city’s southernmost bridge Monday, a key step in efforts to defeat the terrorists in their stronghold, a spokesman said.
The move, a little more than a week into a major push on Mosul’s west bank, could allow Iraqi forces to extend a floating bridge between the city’s two halves and pile pressure on the radicals.
“The Rapid Response force and the federal police have liberated Jawsaq neighborhood and now control the western end of the fourth bridge,” Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool told AFP.
The spokesman for the Joint Operations Command was referring to the southernmost of five bridges — all of which are damaged and unusable — across the Tigris River that divides the northern Iraqi city.
“That means the bridge is under control on both sides,” said Rasool.
Government forces retook the east bank from Daesh a month ago, completing a key phase in an offensive on Mosul that began on Oct. 17 and has involved tens of thousands of fighters.
Engineering units will be expected to deploy a so-called “ribbon bridge” across the Tigris that will allow the connection of the western side’s active front lines to the already retaken east bank.
Rasool said that the Interior Ministry’s Rapid Response force had now fully retaken two neighborhoods on the west bank, while forces from the elite Counter-Terrorism Service have retaken another further west.
“The street fighting is intense, these are populated neighborhoods,” Rasool said. “But our forces are fighting deep in the west, the enemy is broken.”
Iraq forces were also retaking desert territory southwest of the city in order to further cut off Mosul from Daesh-held territory in Syria.
“In general, all the troops are moving forward as planned and doing so rapidly,” Staff Lt. Gen. Abdelamir Yarallah told AFP from Talul Al-Atshana, the highest point in the Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital.
The UN food agency said accounts by recently displaced people it was helping were very alarming.
“We are hearing from some families that food has drastically risen in price and is unaffordable. In extreme cases, people cannot access food at all,” the World Food Program’s Iraq chief Sally Haydock said.-Arab News

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