Baghdad (AFP) – An air strike has disabled the last bridge linking eastern and western Mosul, a city Iraqi forces are fighting to retake from jihadists, residents and a provincial official said.
Iraqi forces have advanced into eastern Mosul — which is divided by the Tigris River — and have retaken some neighbourhoods on that side of the city, which has been held by the Islamic State group for more than two and a half years.
But the western part of Mosul, the last Iraqi city where IS holds significant territory, remains in the hands of the jihadists.
“Aerial bombing… cut the bridge, and it is not possible to cross it,” Mosul resident Abu Ali told AFP.
Abu Ali said he had crossed the river on Wednesday in a boat, now the only way to do so, as other bridges were previously disabled.
Another Mosul resident who did not want to be identified by name said a strike had cut the bridge, as did an official from Nineveh province, of which Mosul is the capital.
“Al-Atiq bridge was targeted by an air strike,” making it unuseable, said Hashim Briskani, the deputy head of the Nineveh province security committee.
Briskani said it had been the last bridge connecting east and west Mosul.
Abu Ali and Briskani both said the strike was on Tuesday.
The US-led coalition carrying out air strikes against IS said it had “disabled two bridges” in the Mosul area on Tuesday, and a third the day before.
IS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces backed by US-led air strikes have since regained much of the territory they lost.