Mosul: In a hair-raising video, a young Iraqi soldier captured a car bomb explosion that happened earlier this month setting ablaze the bulldozer he was manoeuvring through Mosul.
According to a report in The Washington Post, the bomb that exploded near his bulldozer, a Caterpillar D7R, sent a piece of steel into his left arm. He was able to find his way to the front but it took him 24 hours.
19-year-old Pvt Mohammed Ali al-Shwele and his troops were leading the final offensive against ISIS militants, who now control only a handful of neighbourhoods in the country.
Schwele was a part of the Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Service, the US-trained contingent of soldiers that has led nearly every offensive since the ISIS took over parts of Europe three years ago.
Iraqi troops have used bulldozers for operations against the ISIS in Ramadi, Fallujah and eastern Mosul, as militants barricade and fortify their areas with trenches and berms. The machines serve two purposes: breaking down barriers set up by the militants and protecting the troops behind it. The militants choose to target the bulldozers with bombs in order to break down the first line of defence.
The operation does not start in the absence of the bulldozers. If one gets destroyed without a replacement, the operation is called off. Unlike other equipment the bulldozers can clear obstacles while creating a defence.
According to the head logistics officer, Brig. Gen. Ali Jamal, the counterterrorism troops have lost eight bulldozers in eastern and western Mosul so far.
Shwele knows well that the job of the bulldozer is much more reliable than that of drones, GPS-guided artillery and US jets. "There can be no liberation without the bulldozer,” he said. He adds that the best way to go ahead with the offensive is from behind a sturdy bulk of steel.