Last Mosul Neighborhoods Held by Islamic State Could be Hardest to Recapture
Iraqi Forces Recapture One More District in Western Mosul, Move Closer to Last ISIL
Iraqi government forces took over al-Najjar district in Western Mosul as troops moved one more step towards the ISIL-held Old City.
The media outlet said Iraqi forces recaptured the district and raised Iraqi flags above its buildings, IraqiNews reported.
Al-Najjar was one of a handful of remaining districts Iraqi forces are battling ISIL in to pave the way towards the ancient Old City, the highly prized target from where ISIL leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed an “Islamic Caliphate” over large parts of Iraq and neighboring Syria.
Earlier this month, Iraqi government troops changed tactics and started charging at the Old City from the Northwest, having besieged the area for weeks futilely from the South.
The impassable streets of the densely populated area, and the high number of civilians believed to be held as human shields there has made the invasion of the Old City a very delicate endeavor.
The Iraqi Joint Operations Command said recently it controls at least 89.5 percent of territory in Western Mosul. Operations to retake that section of the city launched mid February. Eastern Mosul was recaptured in January. Some generals predict the city to be cleared from ISIL militants by the end of this month.
May 23, 2017: Syrian Army Expels US-backed Militants From Syrian Desert
Syrian Army battles US-backed rebels along Jordanian border
Syrian forces battle militants to secure stretch along Jordanian border
Russian Forces Deploy near Syria's Border with Jordan
Russian armored units have entered regions along the Syria-Jordan border to fortify the Syrian Army's border posts and positions and seal the borderline, Arab media outlets said.
The sources said that a Russian Mountain Operation Brigade battalion has arrived in the Southern provinces of Dara'a and Sweida.
The sources further added that the Russian battalion is duty bound to fortify the Syrian Army positons in the region and seal the country's border overlooking Jordan where the Syrian forces have recently gained the upper hand.
A military source confirmed on Sunday that a group of Russian paratroopers and special forces arrived in the Southern province of Sweida, after the US-led coalition fighter jets targeted heavily a military convoy of the Syrian pro-government forces near the town of al-Tanf at the border with Iraq.
The source told AMN that the Russian military personnel arrived in the region to advise the Syrian government troops in Southern Syria, while also helping to deter any potential response from the US and Jordanian forces that carved a niche in Sweida and Homs provinces.
According to some media activists, the Russian forces were planning to build a base along the Sweida province’s border with Jordan.
Other media reports suggested that they were allegedly meant to engage the enemy forces and help the government troops capture the Iraqi border-crossing.
Lebanese Army General Charles Abi Nader, an expert in military strategy in the Middle East, told TASS on Saturday that the United States carried out a direct military intervention in Syria to prevent the establishment of the Syrian army’s control over the border with Iraq.
"There is no other explanation of the strike delivered by the US Air Force on the Syrian forces and units supporting them," the general said, TASS reported.
He added that the border area in Eastern Syria, where the army units are carrying out offensive now, has major strategic importance.
"There is the only border crossing there, through which one can get to Baghdad now, taking into consideration that the Rutbah-Ramadi road has been cleared of terrorists of the ISIL," the expert said.
"The goal of the US is evident - to prevent the restoration of transport links between Syria and Iraq and also Iran, which is the ally of Damascus," he stressed.
The expert noted that a similar intervention of the US Air Force occurred in September 2016 in the outskirts of Deir Ezzur. Then, the ISIL militants used the airstrike of the US aviation to seize a defensive position on the Jebel-Sarda mountain near a military airfield, which serves as a major basis of the government forces.
As the US-led coalition headquarters reported, on May 18 the aircraft struck pro-Syrian government forces operating within the established de-confliction zone with Russia Northwest of al-Tanf. The statement claimed that these units posed a threat to the United States and its partners. Several servicemen were killed in the strike.
Drone footage: UR-77 "Meteorit" in combat action in Qaboun quarter.
Full version: UR-77 "Meteorit" in combat action.
Damascus: additional footage of the liberation of quarter Qaboun
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