MOSUL, Iraq, Feb. 26 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi forces on Sunday liberated al-Mamoun neighborhood in western side of Mosul, the first neighborhood completely freed from the extremist militants of Islamic State (IS) group, the official television reported.
"The Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) forces completely liberated al-Mamoun neighborhood and raised the Iraqi flag over some of its buildings," the state-run Iraqiya channel quoted Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Yarallah, from the Joint Operations Command (JOC), as saying.
The CTS forces entered the neighborhood on Friday and seized 50 percent of the area, and continued the fighting until they liberated the whole neighborhood earlier on Sunday.
The CTS special forces entered in the adjacent neighborhood of Wadi Hajar and are fighting fierce clashes with the IS militants inside the neighborhood, the JOC said earlier in a statement.
Meanwhile, the federal police and elite interior ministry units, known as Rapid Response, are still fighting street-to-street battles to liberate southern neighborhood of Jawsaq and Tayaran from the extremist militants, the JOC said.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, announced on Feb. 19 the start of an offensive to drive extremist militants out of the western side of Mosul, locally known as the right bank of Tigris River, which bisects the city.
Late in January, Abadi declared the liberation of the eastern side of Mosul, or the left bank of Tigris, after more than 100 days of fighting against IS militants.
However, the western side of Mosul, with its narrow street and a population of between 750,000 and 800,000, appears to be a bigger challenge to the Iraqi forces.
Mosul, 400 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, has been under the 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.