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Iraqi forces fight in Mosul with US's assistance

Reporter: Jack Barton 丨 CCTV.com

07-16-2016 12:46 BJT

US-led coalition forces say they will use an airbase re-captured from ISIL to assist Iraqi forces in forcing the extremist group out of the city of Mosul.

The road to Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and the country’s last ISIL stronghold.  Iraqi Special Operations troops have been advancing fast.

But we’re diverted to an army base in Tikrit after ISIL cuts the road ahead, killing three soldiers in an ambush.

These pick up trucks are typical of the sort of vehicles ISIL is using the mud is used as camouflage its very simple but extremely effective in this landscape and its vehicles like these that ISIL is using to harass the government supply lines.

I speak with the local commander who tells me re-capturing Mosul is now the military’s top priority.

"By eliminating ISIL from Mosul it won’t have any existence anymore," said Major General Maan Alsaedy, Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service.

Unable to move further we fly to the northern Iraq and approach Mosul from the opposite direction.

Here there is less optimism that ISIL will be completely eradicated until its base in neighbouring Syria is also captured.

"Raqqah is close to the Iraqi border and this movement will still remain but we hope that Mosul will be retaken and Raqqah will be controlled as well," said Major General Zrian Shekhwasani, Kurdish Peshmerga.

We reach the front line controlled by the Iraqi Army and Kurdish Peshmerga.

"In the early of this morning ISIL attacked from a village within clear sight of this position using assault rifles, rocket propelled grenades and a suicide vehicle. It took two hours of fierce fighting to push them back."

For the past few days ISIL has been burning oil in towns surrounding Mosul they still control to try hide from drones and airstrikes. ISIL is on the defense.

"In the beginning they were attacking in groups of 4-500 people but now its like ten 15 people attacking to each checkpoint and attacking," said Captain Sherwan Naji Ali, Kurdish Peshmerga.

After sunset lights illuminate the ground in front of the trenches.

Then the electricity is cut leaving only the twinkling of lights of nearby towns still held by ISIL and the sound of coalition warplanes overhead.

The generator has run out of fuel so while they’re refueling the men search the ground with torches to see if ISIL fighters are approaching by crawling towards us, which we are told is what the normally do.

When the power comes back on the men are more relaxed.

The news is that another ISIL base has been captured on the road to Mosul, which many of these soldiers now believe could be back in government hands by the end of the year.

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