Mosul battle: Iraqi army retakes city's east from Islamic State

19 January, 2017, 00:56 | Author: Essie Rivera

The commanding officer of Iraq's elite Counter Terrorism Services says his forces have driven Islamic State fighters from all districts of eastern Mosul that they have been tasked with recapturing.

While initial reports had the government saying it was in "full control" of the eastern half of Mosul, the CTS chief said ISIS fighters remain in some northeastern districts of the city.

More than a million civilians were in Mosul when the operation to liberate it began.

On Tuesday, the CTS forces made fast advances against IS positions in Mosul and recaptured ten neighborhoods, making the Iraqi troops closer to recapturing the whole eastern bank of the city.

Last month, battles in Mosul slowed down as extremist militants used civilians as human shields, resorted to suicide auto bombs and made mortar and sniper attacks in stiff resistance.

A Special Forces spokesman said only the fences around the tomb remain. Ali Hussein who said his unit was still pushing into the Ghabat area along the river bank. Iraqi and United Nations officials believe that one reason so many have been killed and wounded is that IS fighters have targeted civilians trying to flee.

"Today we celebrate... the liberation of the eastern bank in Mosul", Shaghati said.

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The Iraqi forces also found chemical substances Daesh had used to try to make weapons, CTS commander Sami al-Aridhi said. The head of the country's counter-terrorism operations said retaking the area was a significant victory.

Shaghati, who commands Iraqi counterterrorism forces, called the success of Iraqi forces "unprecedented", though he said there are still small places in northern Mosul that still need to be secured.

Iraqi prime minister Haider Al Abadi said victory was near.

Iraqi forces have pushed deeper into Daesh-held districts in eastern Mosul.

The source also said the strikes destroyed two vehicle bombs, which have become one of ISIS' most frequently deployed weapons amid the close-quarters fighting in Mosul's streets and alleys.

IS has fought from among crowded residential areas and witnesses have seen its fighters shoot at civilians in areas they have lost, in apparent efforts to slow the advance of Iraqi forces. US -backed Iraqi government troops announced on Wednesday they were in "full control" of eastern Mosul, after routing Islamic State militants from that part of the northern city nearly exactly three months since the major operation started.

The operation has also left more than 148,000 people homeless, according to the United Nations.

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