USAF joint terminal attack controllers are on the ground pushing into western Mosul with Iraqi forces, directing airstrikes within the city. The Air Force has talked extensively about the presence of JTACS in air operations centers both in Iraq and at the larger combined air operations center at Al Udeid AB, Qatar, but not about the presence of forces on the front lines. Lt. Col. Jeffrey Mack, commander of the 72nd Expeditionary Air Support Operations Squadron, said at AWS17 the fight has been "grinding on" in western Mosul, but the "Iraqis are getting after it" and it is a matter of time until the city falls. JTACs have accompanied Iraqi "maneuver elements" on the south and north ends of the battle. These groups have retaken the remaining bridge in the city and the city's airport. "They are employing effects within the city," Mack said. The fight has been tough in western Mosul because the city's narrow streets have limited sightlines, and ISIS has increasingly gone underground to avoid being spotted. The airstrikes have been conducted with "great care," to the point where about 300 houses in eastern Mosul were fully destroyed because they had ISIS fighters inside but many more were left intact despite the strikes.
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