The Islamic State (ISIS) militants were caught flatfooted. While they were gathering at a village in Iraq, warplanes from the U.S.-led coalition swooped in and dropped bombs, killing more than 160 of the jihadists, the Nineveh Operations Command of the Iraqi military announced on Thursday, according to Iraqi News.
"The international coalition aircraft this morning bombarded an ISIS gathering at al-Safina village, east of Sharqat district, killing over 160 ISIS militants. The bombardment also destroyed a large number of equipment, mechanisms and weapons belonging to the group," a statement issued by the Command said.
Meanwhile, residents of the ISIS-occupied Iraqi city of Mosul said the terrorist group has dug a trench around the city, in preparation for an expected attack from the Iraqi army and the U.S.-led coalition forces.
The sources said the ISIS surrounded the city with oil tanks, which they intend to set on fire once the Iraqi army and coalition forces begin their advance.
The terrorist group is also digging tunnels underneath Mosul and planting bombs and improvised explosive devices around the city, the sources added.
The assault on Mosul, which ISIS captured two years ago, is planned for next month. Its recapture would mark a major turning point in the war against ISIS.
"We assess today that the Iraqis will have in early October all the forces marshalled, trained, fielded, equipped that are necessary for operations in Mosul," said Gen. Joe Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in the U.S.-led coalition.
The Iraqi army says ISIS may resort to suicide attacks once the assault on Mosul begins.
ISIS jihadists "are prepared to fight to the last man in order to keep control over Mosul and the preparations they are making will make the clash challenging," an Iraqi army official told Iraqi News.
"Besides challenging, it's likely to take its toll on the civilian population of Mosul, which was around two million people at the time ISIS took over," he added.