Iraqi forces liberate Mosul University from deep-rooted ISIL > US Department of Defense > Defense Department News

Iraqi security forces this week continued steady progress against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, including the liberation of the University of Mosul, a sprawling complex northeast of Iraq’s second-largest city. Iraq where the enemy was deeply entrenched, the Resolution inherent in the operation said the spokesperson today.

Air Force Col. John Dorrian briefed Pentagon reporters from Baghdad on a live teleconference, noting that Iraqi forces have taken control of the eastern bank of the Tigris in Mosul and three of the five southernmost bridges over the river.

“The liberation of the university deprives ISIL of an important base for operations and research, it is culturally important for the citizens of Mosul and it is also important as a benchmark educational institution,” he said. said Dorrian.

As Iraqi forces search university buildings, the colonel said, they find laboratories and workshops that ISIL allegedly used to manufacture mechanical-grade weapons and facilities indicating that ISIL was using the university as an important command and control node.

“The enemy fought hard to hold this key ground, and they were vulnerable to the [Iraqi forces’] continued use of multi-axis synchronized feeds,” added Dorrian.

ISIL’s declining resources

ISIL’s dwindling resources east of Mosul leave the terror army vulnerable to such coordinated attacks, he said, adding that Iraqi forces are discovering the types of damage, traps and stockpiling of weapons that the coalition has seen in other places the enemy once controlled.

“There is evidence that the enemy also trained their fighters at university and we have seen reports that [ISIL] burned down several facilities – a continuation of the despicable tactics we saw from these terrorists throughout the campaign,” Dorrian said.

In recent days, the rate of ISIL’s use of vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices has decreased, the colonel added, “and we’ve seen them use VBEIDs with less armour, which makes them a bit harder to identify, but a little easier to stop.

Some of these effects, he added, result from coalition airstrikes who cut off supply routes from west Mosul.

“We’re ready to continue hitting VBEIDs wherever they can be found,” he said. “To date, in the Mosul countryside, the coalition has destroyed 145 of them, which are the enemy’s weapon of choice.

“Even though we support the [Iraqi] moving forward with our artillery strikes, our advisers and our intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities,” he continued, “we continue to train Iraqi forces to hold the ground they liberate and to maintain a strong force that can maintain security while the enemy resorts to terrorist-type attacks.

More than 4,400 Iraqi security forces are currently being trained, including nearly 2,500 police, Dorrian said, adding that the police will be instrumental in holding territory retaken from ISIL.

Isolate Raqqa

In Syria, the Syrian Democratic Forces and the Syrian-Arab Coalition have continued to make progress in isolating Raqqa, the city ISIL claims as its capital, Dorrian said. Since the operation began on November 5, coalition partner forces have liberated approximately 1,225 square miles of land and moved approximately 3 miles from the Tabqa Dam west of Raqqa, where they face strongest resistance so far, he added.

Syrian fighters cleared the area east of the Euphrates northwest of Raqqa, showing tactical skill by moving back and forth between the northern and western advances, Dorrian said.

Coordination with Turkey

Elsewhere in Syria, the coalition is continuing day-to-day coordination and conversations with Turkey, the colonel said. As a result, he told reporters, the coalition has recently carried out several ISR missions in support of Turkey and partner forces operating around Bab, which lies about 25 miles northeast of the besieged city of Aleppo.

The coalition also began carrying out strikes against those targets near Bab, and those strikes knocked out ISIL capabilities around the front line of enemy troops near the town, Dorrian said.

“The coalition will continue to work with our Turkish partners to maximize these and other operations against ISIL on as many fronts as possible,” he said, “to ensure the military defeat of ISIL and ensure the stability of the region and the security of our homelands.”

U.S. and Turkish military officers will continue to work in combined headquarters to resolve conflicts, coordinate, and develop objectives “to maximize counter-effects.” [ISIL] and avoid negative effects on this complex and crowded battlefield,” Dorrian added.

(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter @PellerinDoDNews)

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