The US military said yesterday American and Iraqi troops have started operations to secure parts of northern Mosul from insurgents.
US troops and Iraqi security forces began moving in to secure police stations in the western part of the city, closing off the city's five bridges, said Captain Angela Bowman, with Task Force Olympia. Mosul is the third largest city in Iraq.
"We are in the process of securing all of the police stations and returning the police to these stations to implace a strong police presence," she said. "Some of those stations are in neigborhoods on the western side of the city where there has been insurgent activity and presence. We are now moving through the neighborhood."
About 1,200 US soldiers were taking part in the offensive to recapture about a dozen police stations abandoned by Iraqi police forces after an uprising that sprang up following the US-led attack on Fallujah, she confirmed.
Residents reported US warplanes and helicopters hovering over the city, as loud explosions and gunfire were heard near the American base on the northern edge of Mosul.
Eyewitnesses said three police stations already under the control of insurgents were blown up this morning before the militants left.
The Zuhour police station, and a substation in northeastern Mosul were destroyed, along with the Qahira police station in the northern part of the city. No casualties were seen as the stations were controlled by the gunmen.
Also yesterday, insurgents attacked the offices of a key Kurdish party, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, in a bloody gunbattle that left three attackers dead and two Kurdish guards and one attacker wounded, said party official Saadi Ahmed.
The attackers' car was carrying weapons and exploded in the confrontation, he added.
In a separate incident, unknown assailants attacked a truck carrying Kurdish peshmerga militia driving in the northern Masarif neighborhood of Mosul, injuring some of them, eyewitnesses said.
The peshmerga were called in last week to protect Kurdish political offices that have come under attack by militants in the past week.
A mass insurgent uprising began in Mosul last week in apparent support of militants in the rebel bastion of Fallujah, just days after the start of the US offensive there.
Masked and armed bands of men stormed more than a half dozen police stations, bridges and political offices in the city, clashing with US troops and Iraqi forces.