Satellite pictures reveal IS destruction of Mosul's five bridges
Satellite images of Mosul have revealed that Islamic State group [IS] has ramped up its defences in the west of the flashpoint city, further damaging its five bridges that divide the city.
The imagery, released by US geopolitical intelligence company Stratfor on Wednesday, have shown that IS militants have vandalised Mosul's bridges over the Tigris river that separates the east and west of the city.
Last month, Iraqi government forces took back east Mosul, reaching the river and taking up positions near one of the city's five bridges, which had been knocked out one by US-led coalition air raids.
The newly released images taken on January 26 show that the northernmost al-Shuhada bridge has been destroyed on its western side by IS militants after air raids had previously struck the eastern side.
The second bridge down - the fifth bridge - has been damaged by IS over the water, making it extremely difficult to repair for Iraqi forces.
The old bridge, which had not been struck by warplanes because of his historic significance, has now been destroyed on both the east and west by IS.
|Damage done to the fifth bridge by IS [Stratfor]|
The southernmost bridge known as the fourth bridge has been further damaged by IS in areas that had been previously struck by air raids.
Recent days have seen the Iraqi army begin construction of several floating bridges, while heavy hardware has also been moved to the southern town of Qayarrah in anticipation of an assault on west Mosul from the south.
Iraqi government troops have also taken up position along the river's east bank. But the natural barrier the river serves as has done little to reduce the danger posed to the Iraqi army's 16th division by IS militants.
Since losing control of the city's east, IS has taken to launching daring, even suicidal, night-time raids across the river under the cover of darkness.
"Every night they are coming in boats, sometimes dozens, on suicide missions. Normally we get them before they reach our side of the river, but not always," Colonel Nazer Tahir of the division's 75th Brigade told The New Arab.
Small boats packed with as many as a dozen fighters have tried to cross the river at its narrowest point, but most are picked off by the army's gunners who are on constant look out.