MOSUL, Iraq, Feb. 19 (Xinhua) -- At least three people were killed and 12 wounded on Sunday in two suicide bomb attacks in eastern Mosul, as the Iraqi forces started an offensive to drive the extremist militants of Islamic State (IS) group out of the western side of the city.
The attacks took place in the morning when one suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest near a popular restaurant at a commercial area, known as My Fair Lady, in al-Zuhour neighborhood in the recently liberated eastern side of Mosul, a security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The blast left at least a civilian killed and seven others wounded, the source said.
Another attack occurred when a suicide bomber blew up his explosive vest at a popular market in Nabi Younis neighborhood in the eastern side of Mosul, leaving two people killed and five others wounded, the source added.
Late in January, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared the liberation of the eastern side of Mosul, locally known as the left bank of the Tigris River which bisects the city, after more than 100 days of fighting against the extremist IS militants.
The attacks came as Abadi announced, earlier in the day, the start of a new phase of a major offensive to free the western side of Mosul from IS militants.
"We announce the start of a new phase in the operation (We Are Coming Nineveh) to liberate the western side of Mosul," Abadi said in a brief televised address, referring to the province of Nineveh, of which Mosul is the capital city.
"Our main task is to liberate the people before liberating the land," Abadi, who is also the commander-in-chief of the Iraqi forces, said in his address.
Mosul, 400 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, has been under IS control since June 2014, when Iraqi government forces abandoned their weapons and fled, enabling IS militants to take control of parts of Iraq's northern and western regions.