Iraqi forces free neighborhood from IS in western Mosul

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-10 22:14:22|Editor: Song Lifang
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MOSUL, Iraq, June 10 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi government forces on Saturday recaptured al-Zanjili neighborhood from Islamic State (IS) militants in north of the old city center amid heavy clashes against the extremist militants, an Iraqi commander said.

"The federal police forces completely liberated al-Zanjili neighborhood and started an operation to remove landmines and traps from many streets and buildings," Raed Shakir Jawdat, the commander of the federal police force, said in a statement.

The troops also found a large bomb-making site that contains large amounts of explosives, projectiles and rocket launchers, Jawdat said.

The recapture of the neighborhood came after days of back and forth street-to-street battles, as the extremist IS militants showed stiff resistance, but the troops managed to recapture al-Zanjili and are still fighting at the adjacent al-Shifaa neighborhood, he said.

The battles in al-Zanjili resulted in the killing of hundreds of IS militants, including 49 snipers and 22 suicide bombers, along with destroying 27 heavy machine guns and dozens of booby-trapped cars, Jawdat added.

The federal police and the commandos of the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) are still fighting at the adjacent al-Shifaa neighborhood, which is the last IS redoubt outside the Old city center, and are now in control of large part of it, he said.

Iraqi forces, backed by international coalition, have been fighting to drive out IS militant from the western side of Mosul, but part of al-Shifaa neighborhood and the densely-populated old city center, are still under control of the extremist militants.

According to the Iraqi military, over 90 percent of the city has been retaken from IS in the ongoing major offensive launched in October last year.

Meanwhile, the Iraqi army freed six villages in the open land between Mosul and the IS-held town of Tal Afar, some 70 km west of Mosul.

Mosul, 400 km north of Iraq's capital Baghdad, has been under IS control since June 2014, when government forces abandoned their weapons and fled, enabling IS militants to take control of parts of Iraq's northern and western regions.