Iraqi forces retake third of west Mosul

2017-03-12 17:45
An Iraqi mother, carrying her child, walks away from Mosul. (Aris Mennisins, AFP)

An Iraqi mother, carrying her child, walks away from Mosul. (Aris Mennisins, AFP)

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Mosul - Cape Cod, Iraq, March 12, 2017 (AFP) -Iraqi security forces have seized control of more than a third of west Mosul, a commander said on Sunday, after a week of steady gains in their battle to retake the city from the Islamic State group.

Fierce fighting has shaken Mosul in recent days as thousands of US-backed Iraqi soldiers and police battle to reclaim the country's second city.

A renewed push against the jihadists launched last Sunday has seen ISIS forced from several neighbourhoods and key sites, including the main local government headquarters and the famed Mosul museum.

Speaking to AFP on Sunday, Staff Major General Maan al-Saadi of the elite Counter-Terrorism Service said "more than a third" of west Mosul was now under the control of security forces.

"The battle is not easy... we are fighting an irregular enemy who hides among the citizens and uses tactics of booby-trapping, explosions and suicide bombers, and the operation is taking place with precision to preserve the lives of the citizens," said Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, a spokesperson for Iraq's Joint Operations Command,  (JOC).

Still, he said, ISIS resistance "has begun to weaken in a big way".

ISIS seized Mosul in mid-2014 when the jihadist group swept across areas north and west of Baghdad, taking control of swathes of territory and declaring a cross-border "caliphate" in Iraq and neighbouring Syria.

Backed by a US-led air strikes and other support, Iraqi forces have since retaken much of the territory they lost.

The operation to recapture Mosul - then the last Iraqi city under ISIS control - was launched in October.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians remain trapped in Mosul.

Northwest of Mosul advancing Iraqi forces also took the infamous Badush prison, announcing on Saturday they had uncovered a mass grave containing the remains of hundreds of people executed by the jihadists.

The Hashed al-Shaabi paramilitary forces found "a large mass grave containing the remains of around 500 civilian prisoners in (Badush) prison who were executed by (ISIS) gangs", the military said.



Read more on:    isis  |  iraq

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