Sunday 22 October 2017

Anti-IS forces retake new area of Mosul as thousands flee Iraq battle

Iraqi Army soldiers help civilians as they flee due to fighting between Iraqi forces and Islamic State in Mosul (AP/Khalid Mohammed)
Iraqi Army soldiers help civilians as they flee due to fighting between Iraqi forces and Islamic State in Mosul (AP/Khalid Mohammed)

Iraqi militarised police have captured an area on the western side of Mosul amid fierce clashes with Islamic State militants.

It comes as thousands of people continued to flee the battle to government-controlled areas, security officials said.

Iraqi forces, backed by aerial support by the US-led international coalition, launched a new push last week to drive IS militants from Mosul's west.

They have captured so far the city's international airport and an adjacent military base.

Iraqi authorities declared Mosul's eastern half "fully liberated" from the Sunni militants in January, three months after launching the operation to take back Iraq's second-largest city.

At dawn on Sunday, the Federal Police Commandos Division moved into the Tayaran area amid fierce clashes, Major General Haider al-Maturi said.

He said the neighbourhood "is now under their full control".

Maj Gen Al-Maturi said IS militants deployed at least 10 suicide car bombs, but nine of them were blown up before reaching their targets.

The 10th killed two policemen and wounded five. Maj Gen Al-Maturi added that his forces arrested two militants - an Iraqi and a foreigner who speaks Russian.

Elsewhere, up to 3,000 people fled from the Mamun area on Sunday morning, according to Iraqi special forces Brigadier General Salam Hashed, who oversees a screening centre south of Mosul.

He said just over 2,500 people fled the previous day.

According to UN figures, about 750,000 civilians are believed to be trapped in their houses in western Mosul, one of several challenges expected to slow the advance of the Iraqi troops.

Another complication is western Mosul's old and narrow streets, which will force Iraqi soldiers to leave the relative safety of their armoured vehicles.

Western Mosul is the last significant urban area IS holds in Iraq. It fell to IS in the summer of 2014, along with large swaths of northern and western Iraq.

AP

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