MOSUL, Iraq—Iraqi army said on Wednesday that ISIS militants launched an overnight attack against security forces in the southeastern part of Mosul, a day after the troops advanced deeper into the city.
The attack “inflicted heavy losses,” Iraqi Army Sgt. Maj. Hakim Saranbii told The Associated Press without giving specific casualty figures or further details. Iraqi Defense Ministry officials in Bagdad did not immediately comment.
The setback came after Iraq’s army on Tuesday rolled into the southeastern neighborhood of al-Salam, taking a hospital before meeting stiff resistance from ISIS militants. Convoys of dozens of armored Iraqi special forces and army Humvees could be seen moving into the southeastern neighborhood Wednesday morning.
“What we see here is the enemy reacting to a new axis of advance,” said coalition spokesman U.S. Army, Col. John Dorrian, explaining that the new push putting increased pressure on ISIS.
After the advance on Tuesday, Iraqi forces said that they pushed the front line back more than 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) and retook Mosul’s al-Salam hospital, but only a few hundred meters (yards) appeared to be secured and clashes continued into the evening.
When Iraqi forces initially launched a push into eastern Mosul in early November, troops came under heavy counterattacks after advancing too far too quickly. ISIS militants depend on suicide car bombs and sniper fire to derail the security forces, as well as a network of underground tunnels.
The Iraqi government has not publicized the casualty figures for government troops and paramilitary forces fighting in Mosul and elsewhere in northern Iraq. Last week, the U.N. said in a report that nearly 2,000 members of the Iraqi forces were killed last month, but after coming under fire from the media arm of the Iraqi military, it announced it would discontinue publishing casualty figures for Iraq’s security forces.
Backed the U.S.-led international coalition, Iraqi government troops and paramilitary forces launched a campaign in October to dislodge ISIS from Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city and ISIS’s last major urban bastion in the country.