Many of these watercraft were being used to ferry Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant fighters and equipment across the river from East Mosul to West Mosul in an attempt to escape the Iraqi security forces as they continued to clear the remaining portions of East Mosul, officials said.
Iraqi security forces secured the Eastern bank of all five bridges across the Tigris River in Mosul during the past week of clearing operations, they added, making it difficult for ISIL fighters to flee.
ISIL Fighters Desperate
"We believe this was a desperate attempt to retrograde ISIL fighters now that the Iraqi security forces own the eastern bank of every bridge in Mosul," said Air Force Col. John L. Dorrian, spokesman for Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve. "This is one more example of how the coalition is supporting the military defeat of ISIL by launching airstrikes while Iraqi military complete the clearance of eastern Mosul."
Since the operation to liberate Mosul began Oct. 17, the coalition has destroyed at least 112 watercraft on the Tigris River in Mosul, officials said, with several more damaged or destroyed outside of the city.