Islamic State almost driven out of Mosul

  • 13/01/2017
Iraqi army members clash with Islamic State militants in Mosul (Reuters)
Iraqi army members clash with Islamic State militants in Mosul (Reuters)

Iraqi forces have joined flanks in northern Mosul and drove back Islamic State militants in the southeast in a renewed push that has brought them closer to controlling the eastern half of the city.

Forces from the elite Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) took control of 7th Nissan and Sadeeq districts, linking up with army troops that had pushed through al-Hadba neighbourhood, CTS spokesman Sabah al-Numan said.

"This is considered contact between the troops of the northern front and CTS. This... will prevent any gap between the axes which the enemy could use," he said.

"The enemy is now located only in front of the troops, not at their sides."

Mr Numan said more than 85 percent of eastern Mosul was now under control of pro-government forces, up from nearly 75 percent a week ago.

The campaign to recapture Mosul, Islamic State's last major stronghold in Iraq, has pushed ahead with renewed vigour since the turn of the year after troops got bogged down inside the city in late November and December.

New tactics, including a night raid, better defences against suicide car bomb attacks and improved co-ordination between the army and security forces operating on different fronts, have helped forge momentum, US and Iraqi officers say.

Meanwhile, Iraq Body Count (IBC), a group run by academics and peace activists that has been counting violent deaths in the country since 2003, estimated that more than 16,000 civilians were killed in Iraq in 2016, down about 1,000 from the year before.

Around three-quarters of those identified were men, with the rest spilt evenly between women and children, IBC said in a report.

More than two-thirds of the fatalities occurred in the capital province of Baghdad and Nineveh, where Mosul is located, it said.