Amanda Casanova | Religion Today Contributing Writer
Iraqi federal police forces, with the help of U.S. air support, took control of the Mosul International Airport runway from the Islamic State on Thursday.
The plan to re-capture the airport runway was part of a major assault that launched five days ago as part of a bigger plan to force ISIS soldiers out of the western part of Mosul.
ISIS took control of Mosul in the summer of 2014 and there are some 1,000 to 3,000 soldiers in the city, Col. John Dorrian said.
Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, a top U.S. commander in Iraq, said the Iraqi soldiers are an “increasingly capable, formidable and professional force.”
“Mosul would be a tough fight for any army in the world, and the Iraqi forces have risen to the challenge,” he said in a statement.
Eastern Mosul has been officially declared “fully liberated,” but Iraqi forces have still been launching some attacks there, including two suicide bombings on Sunday.
In western Mosul, the United Nations said that nearly half of the food shops are closed and bakeries had also shut down because of an inability to buy high priced flour. Kerosene and cooking gas is expensive, and many poor families are burning wood, furniture or garbage for heating and cooking.
“The situation is distressing. People, right now, are in trouble,” Lise Grande, the U.N. humanitarian coordinator for Iraq, said in a statement. “We are hearing reports of parents struggling to feed their children and to heat their homes.”