Iraqi forces recapture neighborhood amid advance to clear Mosul of IS militants

Source: Xinhua| 2017-06-30 23:53:54|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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MOSUL, Iraq, June 30 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi government forces battling Islamic State (IS) militants on Friday retook control of a neighborhood as the troops continued their advance to dislodge IS militants from three more areas in the old city in the western side of Mosul, the Iraqi military said.

The Iraqi army's 16th Infantry Division liberated al-Farouq al-Thaniyah neighborhood in the northern part of Mosul's old city, Abdul-Amir Yarallah from the Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a brief statement.

Also in the day, the commandos of the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) forces freed al-Sha'areen commercial area and an adjacent area, where the mosque of Prophet Gorges is located, in the central part of the old city, in addition to Abed-Khoub area in the northern part of the old city, Yarallah said in a separate statement.

Meanwhile, Gen. Ma'an al-Sa'di, a CTS commander, told reporters in Mosul that the commandos are pushing in the central part of the old city and the troops are only 400 meters away from the Tigris River that bisects Mosul.

In addition, the federal police forces continued back and forth battles with the IS militants on three fronts in the southern part of the old city, a federal police source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

The battles came a day after the CTS forces drove the IS militants out of al-Nuri mosque and its leaning al-Hadbaa minaret, in addition to the adjacent Sarijkhanah neighborhood in the heart of Mosul's old city center.

On June 21, the IS blew up al-Nuri mosque, as Iraqi forces were pushing closer to the mosque and the surrounding area amid fierce house-to-house battles in some nearby alleys.

The mosque was built in 1172 AD along with its famous leaning minaret, which gave the city its nickname "al-Hadbaa" or "the hunchback."

It was where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the cross-border "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria in his sole public appearance in July 2014.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Thursday that the capture of historical al-Nuri mosque in the old city of Mosul marks the end of the self-styled Islamic State in Iraq.

"The blowing up of al-Nuri mosque and its al-Hadbaa minaret by Daesh (IS group) and bringing them (mosque and minaret) back to the homeland today is a declaration of the end of the illegitimate Daesh state," Abadi said during his visit to the JOC headquarters in Mosul, where he met with the military commanders and discussed with them the developments of the battles to liberate the western side 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.