Iraqi government forces are fighting to eliminate the last pockets of Daesh terrorists in the Old City of Mosul, more than two days after Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi formally declared victory over the extremists in their former stronghold and the country’s second largest city.
Three residents living just across the Tigris River from the ravaged area told Reuters on Wednesday that heavy exchanges of gunfire between Iraqi army soldiers and Daesh militants began before midnight and extended into the morning hours.
Army helicopters hovered over the Old City and columns of smoke rose into the air. It was not immediately clear if the smoke came from controlled explosions or from bombs set off by Daesh remnants.
“We still live in an atmosphere of war despite the victory announcement two days ago,” 45-year-old Fahd Ghanim said.
Another resident said the blasts shook the ground around half a kilometer away.
An unnamed Iraqi military official attributed the activity to “clearing operations.”
“There are Daesh militants hiding in different places. They disappear here and pop up there, then we target them,” he said.
Meanwhile, Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga fighters have thwarted a Daesh attack on their position in the village of Mosallas al-Waqi’ah, located 70 kilometers west of Mosul, killing at least 17 Takfiri terrorists in the process.
Separately, Iraqi police forces repelled a Daesh attack on the Syrian border.
“Security forces, backed by Popular Mobilization Forces (Hashd al-Sha’abi), managed to seize a factory for making car bombs and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) belonging to Daesh in the Old City of Mosul,” a security source said on condition of anonymity.
“Forces defused about 20 car bombs and dismantled around 200 explosive devices, in addition to a large amount of light and medium weapons,” the source added.
“These weapons were prepared for a terror attack on security forces and fighters of al-Hashd al-Sha’abi based on the Syrian border in order to escape to Syria,” the source noted.
Some two dozen Izadi women rescued in western Mosul
Furthermore, Iraqi troops found and rescued 23 Izadi women, whom Daesh extremists had been holding captive near the Tigris riverbank in the western side of Mosul.
The women have been transferred to safe zones in order to be reunited with their families.
On Monday, Abadi formally declared victory of the country’s forces over Daesh in the northern city, which fell into the hands of the Takfiri terrorist group in June 2014.