BAGHDAD/ERBIL: Iraq’s armed forces opened a new front against Islamic State in Mosul on Thursday, advancing on the militants’ enclave from the northwest, a military commander told Reuters.
The army’s 9th Armored Division and the Rapid Response units of the Interior Ministry were headed towards the city, he said.
The attack would help the elite Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) and Interior Ministry Federal Police troops who were painstakingly advancing from the south, he said.
A U.S.-led international coalition is providing key air and ground support to the offensive on Mosul, Islamic State’s de facto capital in Iraq, which started in October.
The militants are now besieged in the northwestern corner of Mosul which includes the historic Old City center and the Grand al-Nuri Mosque.
It was from the pulpit of this mosque nearly three years ago that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a “caliphate” that also spanned parts of Syria.