Video: ‘Mosul offensive remains far from the urban warfare stage’
The military campaign to reclaim the Iraqi city of Mosul from the Islamic State (IS) groups is underway, but coalition forces are far from reaching the jihadi stronghold.
Government security forces, in coordination with Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and militias, launched a massive operation on Monday to retake Mosul, the country's second largest city. Observers nevertheless warned that the offensive could take months to complete.
“We are still many kilometres from Mosul, we are not at artillery range,” FRANCE 24’s Wassim Nasr, an expert on jihadist movements, said on Wednesday. “This is why coalition forces are bombing on the outskirts of the city, trying to destroy the IS group’s first and maybe its second line of defense.”
“Today we are witnessing fighting in surrounding villages and open spaces. We are not at a stage of urban warfare yet,” Nasr added.
Reporting from Erbil, the Iraqi capital of Kurdistan, FRANCE 24’s James Andre confirmed that the Iraqi army and Kurdish forces “still had a lot of distance left to cover”.
“There is progress, but it is very slow. We followed one of these operations to liberate villages. The objective was to liberate two villages, they managed to liberate one. They have around 80 villages to liberate on that southern front before they can finally reach the outskirts of Mosul,” Andre noted.
He said that IS group fighters were retreating from positions as Iraqi forces entered villages, and were heading north to Mosul. “The fighting is going to get more and more difficult as coalition forces advance,” our correspondent cautioned.
Click on the players above to see the full interviews with FRANCE 24’s Wassim Nasr and James Andre.