Pentagon: ISIS showing signs of weakness in Mosul

Iraqi forces stand next to weapons reportedly belonging to ISIS militants next to Al-Salam hospital in the al-Wihdah neighborhood after recapturing the area on January 9, 2017, during an ongoing military operation to retake the city of Mosul.

ISIS militants are increasingly less capable of using trucks packed with explosives against Iraqi troops in Mosul, a sign of their growing weakness, the Pentagon said Monday. “We see fewer and fewer VBIED than we had previously in Mosul,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said, using the acronym for vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.

Iraqi forces fear the trucks – vehicles stuffed with explosives, sometimes protected by makeshift armor and driven by suicide bombers. Among other signs of the ISIS’s mounting difficulties are “a lot” of desertions among the militants, Davis said.

“We are seeing ISIS people leave their positions, try to disappear and make a break for it,” he said. “It a sign of the fact that they recognize their defeat as imminent.” Iraqi forces believe they will take the entire eastern part of the city, Iraq’s second-largest, within a few days.

They will then turn to sections of the city west of the Tiger River, where the militants are still firmly entrenched. The coalition has destroyed 134 bomb-laden trucks with air strikes since the start of the operation to take Mosul in mid-October, Davis said.

With bridges across the river destroyed by bombing, ISIS militants have improvised ways to cross the Tigris. They place wooden planks across missing sections to enable pedestrians to cross, use cranes to move vehicles across damaged bridges and send goods down on slides, Davis said.

The militants are also facing “resistance from within the city” in areas troops are approaching, he added. “The people are very quick to turn against them, too, and help drive them out,” Davis said. “But that’s particularly when (the Iraqi Security Forces) get really close to taking places.”

Officials say it could be months before Iraqi forces are able to completely retake Iraq’s second city, where hundreds of thousands of civilians still live.


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