MOSUL, Iraq, Jan. 6 (UPI) — Iraqi security forces launched a surprise attack against Islamic State militants in Mosul’s Muthana district after crossing the Khosr River overnight.
Brig. Gen. Shukr Nuaimi, commander of the Iraqi forces’ 73rd Brigade, said the surprise raid began at 3 a.m. on Friday.
“The counter-terrorism forces have begun early today, in the morning, to raid the al-Muthana district, northeast of Mosul with the support of the coalition and Iraqi fighter jets,” Nuaimi said at a press conference.
The Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service, or ICTF, said its “heroes” crossed the Khosr River, a tributary of the larger Tigris River that splits Mosul from a western section to a larger eastern section.
ICTF said troops were able to raise the Iraqi flag above several buildings in the Muthana district but it is unclear how much of the area was under Iraqi control. ICTF said its troops completely surrounded Muthana.
“The Iraqi security forces are making excellent strides in liberating neighborhoods in eastern Mosul from” the Islamic State, Air Force Col. John L. Dorrian, the spokesman for the U.S.-led international coalition against the Islamic State, said in a statement on Friday.
In northern Mosul, Iraqi forces freed the Hadba district from IS control, Gen. Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah said in a press conference, Rudaw reported.
Dorrian on Wednesday said “time is … on the side of Iraqi security forces” because the Islamic State is unable to reinforce or resupply its militants in Mosul.”
The second phase of the battle to retake Mosul — which is led by Iraqi security forces and aided by the Kurdish Peshmerga, a Shiite-led militia, and the U.S.-led international coalition against the Islamic State — began last Thursday after the offensive was suspended for weeks.