Iraqi security forces began a dramatic shift in tactics Thursday in their stalled offensive to retake Mosul, Islamic State’s last major stronghold, advancing on new fronts and bringing federal police into the battle after counterattacks inflicted heavy casualties.
Iraq’s military announced a multi-sided offensive on the city’s northern, eastern and southeastern neighborhoods in an attempt to choke off supplies of weapons and new fighters.
In the past week, Iraq’s military has begun using heavy artillery in the crowded city, in spite of the risk to civilians, and has moved forces from Baghdad and other areas to support the Counter Terrorism Forces. Some 4,000 federal police have been shifted from the capital and south of Mosul to support the fight in the east.
The changes follow a series of devastating counterattacks by Islamic State that have raised questions about the battle plan and even the military’s capacity to secure other urban centers, including the capital Baghdad.