Islamic State shifts defenses to east Mosul: coalition commander

Iraqi soldier takes cover during an operation against Islamic State militants in the frontline in neighbourhood of Intisar, eastern Mosul

From Reuters:

“Islamic State has brought its forward defenses from western Mosul towards the east as it fights against Iraqi forces in the battle to liberate the city, a coalition commanding general said.

Iraqi special forces are slowly edging through districts in eastern Mosul, Islamic State’s last stronghold in Iraq, where they face suicide attacks, snipers and mortars from militants dug in among the civilian population.

Commanders expected the western half of the city, divided by the Tigris River, to be the tougher battle, but Islamic State – which has controlled the city for two years – appears to be committing its defenses to the east against the Iraqi forces, which are backed by Western-led coalition air strikes.

“What we thought was going to be the strongest defense, now they have already hedged their bets and bought it forward,” U.S. Brigadier General Scott Efflandt, a coalition deputy commanding general told Reuters.

“The quality of the enemy we are facing now is markedly declined from a month ago… what they were saving for the west side of the river they are now committing to the east.”

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