BARTELLA, Iraq - Iraqi forces closed in on the river that runs through central Mosul on Saturday in advances against Islamic State that have gathered pace thanks to new tactics and better coordination, a counter-terrorism spokesman said.
Advances in recent days, including Saturday's push to within several hundred meters of the Tigris, have included an unprecedented nighttime assault by elite forces and driven the militants out of several areas east of the river in what is their last major stronghold in Iraq.
Counter-terrorism service (CTS) forces were the closest they had been to the Tigris inside Mosul and closing in on a strategic bridge, the spokesman said. The U.S.-backed operation to recapture the city was launched nearly three months ago.
"Counter-terrorism forces have been sent about 500m (yards) from the fourth bridge," Sabah al-Numan told reporters east of Mosul.
CTS seized the Ghufran district, previously known as al-Baath, and entered neighboring Wahda, he said.
A separate military statement said Iraqi federal police had recaptured a hospital complex in Wahda in southeastern Mosul, a significant turnaround after army units were forced to withdraw from the site last month.