This segment originally aired Oct. 31, 2016, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.
The Iraqi-led offensive to take back the city of Mosul from the Islamic State terrorist group drags into its third week. Coalition forces are now digging in for a drawn-out, house-to-house fight in a city riddled with tunnels and rigged with improvised explosive devices.
“We want to do it quickly, but in Bashiqa it’s been two years that Daesh [IS] is working on the buildings,” peshmerga commander Najat Abdullah told VICE News correspondent Seb Walker in Bashiqa, east of Mosul. “A lot of mines have been placed in the roads, approximately 10 to 15 massive ones have exploded around my troops.”
Commander Abdullah’s forces discovered an abandoned IS base that the terrorists had fled in haste, leaving behind their weapons and documents. Tunnels underneath the base revealed an underground network of improvised explosive devices.
The offensive has been grueling and is expected to drag on for weeks. But last week Iraqi forces saw some notable gains when they killed 116 IS fighters in bombing raids and breached the city’s outer limits for the first time in more than two years.