Iraqi forces advance closer to Mosul city center after recapturing new areas

Source:Xinhua Published: 2017/1/5 7:13:34

Iraqi security forces on Wednesday advanced further to the city center of Mosul after they retook control of a new neighborhood from the Islamic State (IS) militants, as part of the troops push into the eastern part of the city, the Iraqi military said.

In southeastern part of the city, the federal police and soldiers of the 9th Armored Division fought fierce clashes with IS militants and recaptured Wahda neighborhood, bringing the troops closer to the center of the eastern side of Mosul, a statement by the Iraqi Joint Operations Command said.

The troops continued their slow progress in the nearby neighborhoods of al-Salam, Palestine, al-Shaimaa, Domiez and Sumer amid heavy clashes with the extremist militants after they completely recaptured the neighborhood of al-Mithaq on Tuesday.

During the day, IS militants carried out counter-attacks against the troops in southeastern Mosul, but the troops repelled their attacks, leaving some 40 militants killed and destroying seven booby-trapped vehicles, according to the statement.

In northern front, the soldiers of the army's 16th Division, backed by Iraqi and international aircraft, clashed with the extremist militants, leaving 10 militants killed and destroying two car bombs, the statement said.

In the eastern front, the commandos of the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) cleared the earlier recaptured areas in Mosul and fought sporadic clashes, which resulted in the killing of four militants, the statement added.

On Tuesday, the elite CTS forces recaptured the vast industrial area and raised the Iraqi flag on its buildings as well as the buildings of the nearby flourmill, silo and commercial complex after fierce clashes with IS militants.

The battles in Mosul came as the elite CTS forces, army troops and federal police launched on Dec. 29 the second phase of a major offensive to free Mosul.

The troops made their new push into several neighborhoods in the eastern side of Mosul, locally known as the left bank of the Tigris which bisects the city.

For the seventh day of a new push to free the remaining neighborhoods of the eastern bank of the city, the troops are facing stiff resistance by the extremist militants.

In the past few weeks, the battles in Mosul were slowed amid grueling fighting inside Mosul with extremist militants, who used the city's civilians as human shields, carried out brutal counter attacks in small groups moving quickly throughout the districts, and resorted to suicide car bombs, in addition to mortar and sniper attacks.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a recent report that the military operations in Mosul have pushed some 125,568 civilians to flee their homes in the city and its adjacent districts since the beginning of military offensive in October to reclaim the IS largest stronghold in Iraq.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Oct. 17 announced a major offensive to retake Mosul, the country's second largest city.

Since then, Iraqi security forces, backed by international coalition forces, have inched to the eastern fringes of Mosul and made progress on other routes around the city.

Mosul, some 400 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, has been under IS control since June 2014, when Iraqi government forces abandoned their weapons and fled, enabling IS militants to take control of parts of Iraq's northern and western regions.

Posted in: MID-EAST

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