Two weeks since announcing the start of the operation to liberate the city of Mosul from the Islamic State, the Iraqi army has crossed the city limits, and authorities claim troops are progressing steadily in capturing the city’s dense urban neighborhoods.

The Iraqi military says U.S.-backed Iraqi Special Forces have entered the city limits of Mosul as part of its campaign to retake control of the city from ISIS. The United States is backing the Iraqi army with both U.S. Special Forces on the ground, as well as U.S. airstrikes.  The Iraqi military said recently that it has taken control of Mosul’s television station.  “The security forces liberated the Iraqi Media Network building on the left coast conductor and raised the Iraqi flag over the premises,” an Iraqi official reportedly announced on national television.

Iraqi Media Network is the official means of media for the government and includes satellite channels, radio stations, newspapers and magazines so the importance of recapturing that facility is critical.

The reports have been confirmed that the Iraqi military had entered Mosul’s city limits after liberating the last suburb on the route in.  The progress of the Iraqi troops has been described as moderately paced, with troops entering the neighborhood of Gogjali Tuesday and nearly securing the area before moving deeper into the city.

The troops in Mosul currently are Iraqi Special Forces, not standard troops. Maj. Gen. Sami al-Aridi told CBS News that they are expecting significant retaliation from Islamic State forces in the city.  ISIS is fighting back and have set up concrete blast walls to block off the Karama neighborhood and our troops’ advance,” he explained. Karama is the next neighborhood after Gogjali en route to the heart of the city.

It has been estimated that there are nearly 8,000 Islamic State terrorists in and around the city that are prepared to keep Iraqi forces at bay. While a coalition of militias are involved in the operation – including U.S. air support, Kurdish Peshmerga troops, and Shiite Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) troops – the various factions have agreed that only the official Iraqi military should enter Mosul’s city limits. This caused some early alarm among the Peshmerga, who noted that Mosul’s fall to the Islamic State in 2014 occurred largely because Iraqi soldiers fled the battle.

The Kurdish outlet Rudaw reports that Iraq’s “Golden Brigade” special forces are engaged in heavy “street fighting” with Islamic State terrorists. In addition to attempting to neutralizing the Iraqi military operation, Islamic State terrorists have begun to move thousands of civilians into more secure locations, likely to use them later as human shields, according to the United Nations.  The United Nations is warning as many as 1 million civilians could be displaced amid the fighting for control of Mosul—leading to what could become the largest humanitarian crisis in Iraq’s history.

In addition to moving civilians, it has been reported another sign that the Islamic State appears to believe victory is no longer within reach. “ISIS had suddenly ceased referring to Mosul as the capital of its caliphate through its news media outlets to possibly influence public perceptions about the imminent liberation of Mosul according to the Iraqi satellite TV network, Al Sumaria,” the website Iraqi News has reported.

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