WASHINGTON: Daesh militants are increasingly less capable of using trucks packed with explosives against Iraqi troops in Mosul, a sign of their growing weakness, the Pentagon said on Monday.
“We see fewer and fewer VBIED than we had previously in Mosul,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Captain Jeff Davis said, using the acronym for vehicle-borne improvised explosive device.
Iraqi forces fear the trucks -- vehicles stuffed with explosives, sometimes protected by makeshift armor and driven by suicide bombers.
Among other signs of the Daesh group’s mounting difficulties are “a lot” of desertions among the militants, Davis said.
“We are seeing Daesh people leave their positions, try to disappear and make a break for it,” he said, using an alternate acronym for the Daesh group. “It a sign of the fact that they recognise their defeat as imminent.”
The coalition has destroyed 134 bomb-laden trucks with air strikes since the start of the operation to take Mosul in mid-October, Davis said.
With bridges across the river destroyed by bombing, Daesh fighters have improvised ways to cross the Tigris.
They place wooden planks across missing sections to enable pedestrians to cross, use cranes to move vehicles across damaged bridges and send goods down on slides, Davis said.
The militants are also facing “resistance from within the city” in areas troops are approaching, he added.
“The people are very quick to turn against them, too, and help drive them out,” Davis said. “But that’s particularly when (the Iraqi Security Forces) get really close to taking places.”