MESOP UPDATE MOSUL – Mosul Offensive Faces ISIS Resistance

October 19 –  By Scott Lucas – eaworldview – The offensive to retake Iraq’s second city Mosul is facing Islamic State resistance as it enters its third day. The advance by Iraqi troops and Kurdish peshmerga was challenged by ISIS explosives and booby traps, according to commanders and officials.

Soon after its launch on Monday, the offensive announced the capture of nine villages to the south and east of Mosul, held by the Islamic State since a lightning offensive in June 2014.However, officials then said that the Iraqi and Kurdish forces were being challenged by the Islamic State, still about 20 km (12.5 miles) from the outskirts of Mosul. Commanders maintained on Tuesday that the operation was proceeding as planned despite the resistance.  “Many villages have already been liberated,” said Sabah al-Numan, the spokesman of Iraq’s counter-terrorism service. “Iraqi forces have achieved their goals and even more, but we’re careful to stick to the plan and not rush this.”

Khalil Miro, a colonel of the Kurdish peshmerga, said that an immmediate objective is the capture of the district of Hamdaniya, where there is a concentration of Islamic State fighters. He said that an attack will only be launched in “cooperation with the Iraqi army”.

Shia militias said on Tuesday that they will soon enter the fight, despite concerns that this will inflame sectarian tensions and lead some Sunnis to back the ISIS resistance. The Popular Mobilization Force said it will assist the offensive moving towards Mosul from the west.The PMF also said it will support of the Iraqi Army’s advance towards Tal Afar, about 55 kilometers (34 miles) west of Mosul.On Tuesday, Amnesty International on Tuesday warned in a report that Shia militias had committed “serious human rights violations, including war crimes” against civilians fleeing Islamic State-held territory.