While Iraqi officials continue to say they are confident that ISIS’ defense is collapsing in Mosul, fighters on the ground tell a much different story, with ISIS snipers and mortar attacks continuing to loom large as ground troops slowly advance in the city’s western side.
ISIS snipers have proven remarkably successful at slowing the advances of Iraqi ground troops, particularly those which had limited training in preparation for urban combat. This has meant house to house fighting at a snail’s pace, which is why the eastern Mosul offensive took some three months.
Iraqi political leaders have said they believe they’ll have west Mosul wrapped up by the end of the month, though that would be surprising alacrity given that this side of the river is more populous, and had a larger ISIS defense force starting out.
Hope that ISIS morale will eventually break and send the defenders fleeing from western Mosul is similarly unlikely, as Shi’ite militias have blocked off the escape routes into Syria, likely guaranteeing that ISIS forces have to fight to the finish.