MOSUL, Iraq, July 25 (UPI) — Islamic State fighters in Mosul, Iraq, number between 5,000 and 10,000 but that number is expected to decline, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition said as the coalition advanced on the city.
Airstrikes on Mosul, a city of more than 500,000 and an IS headquarters, have intensified, reducing IS troop strength as Kurdish Peshmerga and Iraqi army troops advanced by land to a Mosul suburb.
IS leadership began moving its center of operations to other parts of the city, media activist Abdullah al-Malla, in Mosul, told the independent Iraqi news agency ARA, the Assyrian International News Agency reported Monday. Al-Malla said police headquarters, the courts, weapons storage facilities and security headquarters have been relocated “to other districts of Mosul believed to be safer.”
Col. Christopher Garver, the coalition’s spokesman, said Sunday the militant group is expected to avoid further personnel losses after the bombardments by reducing its number of forces in the city. IS sustained heavy losses in manpower and equipment in the airstrikes and the shelling by army and Peshmerga infantry.
“At the start of the attack to liberate Mosul, the number of the fighters of the organization will be from 5,000 to 6,000. [The] number of unarmed civilians in Mosul range between 500,000 to a million,” Garver said.
Garver added coalition troops number about 7,000 in Iraq, including 560 U.S. forces, with additional personnel stationed on nearby aircraft carriers and warships. He said the coalition has trained nearly 24,000 Iraqis as security personnel, including police, army and anti-terrorism units.