ISIS setback: Airstrike takes out Mosul’s last functioning bridge
A huge setback for ISIS as the terror group loses its grip on its Iraqi hub of Mosul, a coalition airstrike reportedly cut off the city’s last functioning bridge — a span that ISIS showed off in a propaganda video this month.
Video posted Wednesday by the terror group’s media arm showed that a section of the metal bridge, known as the Old Bridge, fell into the Tigris River. The strike took out the last crossing ISIS fighters could use to transport weapons in and out of the eastern part of the city, where the fighting has peaked.
Some of the civilian men and women who remain trapped in Mosul told The Associated Press the strike that took out the bridge unfolded at dawn Monday.
In the ISIS propaganda video that featured the crossing, a narrator claimed the U.S.-led coalition strikes — not the terrorists — were responsible for the trapped residents’ suffering, The Washington Post reported.
U.S. Air Force Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for the coalition, told the Post the Iraqi government would repair the damage — but only after defeating ISIS.
The northern city of Mosul had five bridges spanning the Tigris River. Four of them have now been bombed in airstrikes since the massive government military operation began on Oct. 17, while one was disabled weeks before the operation began.
The Tigris runs through the center of Mosul, and until now most of the fighting has been on the eastern bank. Iraqi forces are expected to use pontoon bridges when they reach the river as they have done in previous military operations in other areas.
Pictures from inside Mosul showed the Old Bridge’s twisted girders sinking into the water as boats were seen ferrying residents from both banks. The bridge, which was built during the reign of King Ghazi in the 1930s, is considered one of the city’s iconic landmarks.
Fighting on all fronts, but centered mainly on Mosul’s eastern edge, has slowed recently as suicide car bombings, snipers and concern over the safety of civilians have hampered the Iraqi troops’ advance toward the city center.
In a Tuesday press conference, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said ISIS militants have launched more than 900 car bomb attacks against Iraqi troops so far during the Mosul operations, but didn’t give details on how many were driven by suicide bombers or were blown up before reaching their targets.
Al-Abadi added the offensive “is continuing … God willing, there will be good news in the coming days.”
Mosul, about 225 miles northwest of Baghdad, is Iraq’s second-largest city and the last major ISIS urban bastion of their self-styled caliphate in the country. It fell into the hands of ISIS militants during their June 2014 onslaught that left the group in control of large swaths of northern and western Iraq.