Mosul’s last bridge disabled by airstrike

The Old Bridge, built during the reign of King Ghazi in the 1930s, had been considered one of the city’s iconic landmarks

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BAGHDAD // Mosul residents said on Wednesday that an airstrike had disabled the city’s last functioning bridge across the Tigris River, forcing residents to cross the waterway in boats and further disrupting ISIL’s movement.

The residents said the airstrike happened at dawn on Monday. Iraqi and officials from the US-led coalition battling ISIL were not available to comment.

Activists from inside Mosul published pictures on Tuesday night of the metal bridge, known as the Old Bridge, showing its twisted girders sinking into the water as boats ferried residents from both banks. The bridge, which was built during the reign of King Ghazi in the 1930s, is considered one of the city’s iconic landmarks.

Until recently, Mosul had five bridges spanning the Tigris River, which runs through the centre of the northern city. One was disabled in the weeks before the offensive to retake the city began on October 17, while the other four have since been bombed in airstrikes.

So far, most of the fighting in Mosul has taken place on the Tigris River’s eastern bank. Iraqi forces are expected to use pontoon bridges when they reach the river as they have done in previous military operations in other areas.

Fighting on all fronts – but centred mainly on Mosul's eastern edge – has slowed recently as suicide car bombings, snipers and concern over the safety of civilians hamper the Iraqi troops' advance toward the city centre.

On Tuesday, Iraqi prime minister Haider Al Abadi said ISIL militants had so far launched more than 900 car bombs against Iraqi troops during the Mosul operations, but didn’t give details on how many were driven by suicide bombers or were blown up before reaching their targets.

“God willing, there will be good news in the coming days,” Mr Al Abadi said.

Mosul, about 360 kilometres north-west of Baghdad, is Iraq’s second-largest city and ISIL’s last major bastion in the country. It fell into the hands of ISIL militants during the militants’ June 2014 onslaught that left the group in control of large swathes of northern and western Iraq.

* Associated Press