Iraqi forces push into first districts of western Mosul

By REUTERS
February 24, 2017 12:13
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SOUTH OF MOSUL, Iraq - US-backed Iraqi security forces advanced deeper into the western half of Mosul on Friday one day after launching attacks on several fronts towards Islamic State's last main stronghold in the city.

Troops had recaptured Mosul airport on Thursday, an important prize in the battle to end the jihadists' control of territory in Iraq.

Counter-terrorism forces managed on Friday to fully control the Ghozlani army base, pushing deeper towards the southwestern districts of Tal al-Rumman and al-Mamoun, a military spokesman said.

Federal police and an elite Interior Ministry unit known as Rapid Response are clearing the airport of roadside bombs and booby traps left by Islamic State militants who retreated from their positions there on Thursday.

Iraqi government forces plan to repair the airport and use it as a base from which to drive the militants from Mosul's western districts, where about 750,000 people are believed to be trapped.

Government forces pushed the insurgents out of eastern Mosul last month but the IS still holds the western sector of the city, divided by the Tigris river.

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