Monday, 31 October 2016

Battle for Mosul intensifies with 2km away between ISIS fighters and Iraqi Army



The Iraqi and Kurdish army have been battling to take Mosul for some days now.
CNN gathered it is across the ghostly silence and dense dust of the berms between ISIS' Mosul and advancing Iraqi special forces that the final chapter of ISIS' extinction in Iraq will play out.

Yet at dusk on Saturday, the 2 kilometers between the US-trained Golden Division and the medieval world of the so-called caliphate suddenly were aflame with the loathing and terror of the world's war on ISIS.
 
Tracer rounds flashed across the horizon; the sparks and thud of countless explosions rocked the tiny village of Bazwaya, split in two by the closing stages of this battle. Ferocious and constant, it came closer and closer to the Iraqi base where we filmed from a rooftop. 
 
By the end of the fearsome exchange -- which fell silent after heavy artillery flew over our heads -- a staggering 14 Iraqi soldiers were dead, some of the worst losses sustained by the unit.
 
When Maj. Hussien Hussien's Golden Division unit piled in to Bazwaya, they arrived as veterans of the war on ISIS. Having fought in Ramadi and Falluja, Hussien has a series of scars on his right ear from a rocket-propelled grenade attack months earlier. 
 
The Golden Division moved into the town a few days earlier, putting them within 2 or 3 kilometers of the area near the Mosul city limits known as Gogjali. Hussien aggressively takes on ISIS positions, using tanks to pile into the dust at night and fire on areas from which his outposts are harassed.
 
 We watch as a series of rounds hit distant buildings marked by flags. In the darkness, we cannot tell if the flags are white to denote civilians, or black to denote those accused of using them as human shields: ISIS. 
 
Hussien and his men use videos filmed from sniper scopes and Google maps to target their prey. The coalition has liaisons nearby, but not the volume of technology required to fully map out ISIS across this huge front.And its especially difficult as they use Iraqi's from kids to adults as human shields. Time will tell what befalls of this battle. 
 
 Hussien races to the front to try to bolster the defenses. Ahmed Bullet walks silently around the base, his cheerful nature subdued. An argument erupts among some soldiers about which radio channel they were meant to be on.

Once the gunfire slows, Hussien returns to his men and tries to raise morale. He is handed the weapons of the fallen and asks for their body armor. He puts his hand on Ala's shoulder and tells his men: "You guys are heroes, and none of you should be affected by this. Those suicide bombers are nothing."
 
It is a moment of great loss, tempered by grief for those already gone in previous battles and the knowledge that this comes 2 kilometers from Mosul's city limits, with another 7 to go before the city center.
 
 

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