×

Airstrikes Fuel Mosul Gains as Iraq Seeks Quick KO

  • A man rushes his daughter to safety while fleeing the al-Rifai neighborhood as Iraqi special forces battle Islamic State militants, in western Mosul, Iraq, Wednesday, May 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

  • A woman checks on her children as they flee during fighting between Iraqi special forces and Islamic State militants, in the al-Rifai neighborhood of western Mosul, Iraq, Wednesday, May 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

  • A girl with a shaved head and her father cry as the family flees the al-Rifai neighborhood while Iraqi special forces battle Islamic State militants in western Mosul, Iraq, Wednesday, May 17, 2017.(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

  • A boy holds his mother's hand and waves to soldiers while fleeing the al-Rifai neighborhood as Iraqi special forces battle Islamic State militants in western Mosul, Iraq, Wednesday, May 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

  • A child sleeps on his mother's shoulder after a perilous journey on foot to flee heavy fighting in their neighborhood between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants, at a processing center in west Mosul, Iraq, Thursday, May 18, 2017. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

  • A woman climbs off of a truck after a perilous journey to flee heavy fighting in her neighborhood between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants, at a processing center for the displaced, in west Mosul, Iraq, Thursday, May 18, 2017.(AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

  • Smoke from an airstrike rises in the background as a man flees with a toddler during fighting between Iraqi special forces and Islamic State militants, in the al-Rifai neighborhood of western Mosul, Iraq, Wednesday, May 17, 2017. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)



Associated Press
Friday, May 19, 2017

Mosul, Iraq — Half a dozen units of Islamic State group fighters holed up in western Mosul began their morning radio checks at just after 4 a.m. It was still dark and Iraqi forces deployed a few blocks away were listening in as they prepared an advance on the city’s al-Rifai neighborhood.

“Thirty, what’s new? ... 120, do you read me? What’s up?” the IS radio operator said, using Iraqi slag.

About 40 minutes later the first U.S.-led coalition airstrike hit as Iraqi forces pushed across a main road and began clearing the neighborhood’s narrow streets.

“We’re seeing at least two squirters at the impact site,” a member of the coalition force radioed back to the Iraqi troops in Australian-accented English, using a slang term for badly wounded IS fighters. Moments later the extremists were calling for doctors over their own radio network.

Over the next 12 hours, more than 10 coalition airstrikes hit al-Rifai’s eastern edge. Most targeted small teams of two or three IS fighters manning sniper rifles or machine guns so Iraq’s special forces units could advance on the ground.

Military operations like the one in al-Rifai this week are accelerating in Mosul as part of a drive to retake the handful of districts still under IS control before the holy month of Ramadan begins at the end of May. And despite recent allegations of increased civilian casualties, advances on the ground continue to be backed by heavy airstrikes and artillery.