(CNN)Just over a week into the battle for Mosul, and the vast coalition seeking to oust ISIS from Iraq’s second city is making swifter than expected progress.
But for all its gains — 78 villages liberated, and nearly 800 ISIS fighters killed as of Monday morning — the Iraqi coalition is encountering fierce resistance from ISIS, in what is anticipated to be the terror group’s last stand in the country.
Massively outnumbered by the advancing coalition — a 90,000-strong force of Iraqi government troops, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and irregular militia soldiers — ISIS relies on asymmetric warfare tactics to inflict damage on its opponents, and terrorize long-suffering civilian populations.
Here’s how the terror group is fighting to maintain its two-year grip on the city.
Lighting toxic fires:
ISIS has also been setting fire to oil wells in the oil-rich region, in an attempt to blunt the effectiveness of the coalition’s air power by obscuring their view of targets from above.
A sulfur facility near Qayyara was set ablaze Thursday, by ISIS militants who placed explosives and oil in the sulfur deposits and across the factory.
Having known long in advance that the push to retake Mosul was coming, ISIS has had plenty of time to prepare for the onslaught.
Coalition forces approaching the city must navigate roads lined with improvised explosive devices (IEDs). In recaptured towns, they face the threat of booby traps left by ISIS’s skilled bombmakers.
According to the Iraqi Joint Operations Command, two bomb-making factories were discovered during the first week of the assault, and nearly 400 IEDs remotely detonated by coalition forces.
Brigadier General Bajat Mzuri of the Zeravani Special Forces, part of the Kurdish Peshmerga, told CNN thatmore of his troops had been killed by such explosives than on the battlefield itself.
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