MOSUL, Iraq, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi government forces on Friday extended grip in the city of Mosul after intense fighting with Islamic State (IS) group, recapturing several buildings of Mosul University, the Iraqi military said.
In the eastern front, the commandos of the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) stormed in the morning the complex of Mosul University and managed to seize large part of the University complex, including its technical institute and student dormitories, after heavy clashes with IS militants, a statement by the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC) said.
The elite CTS forces, backed by U.S.-led coalition aircraft, also recaptured al-Kafa'at neighborhood adjacent to the University complex and raised the Iraqi on some of its buildings, leaving some 30 IS militants killed and destroying three car bombs, the statement said.
Moreover, the CTS troops advanced in the early morning into the three neighborhoods of al-Sadriya, al-Naser and al-Faisaliyah in the central part of Mosul's eastern side and engaged in heavy clashes with IS militants, and managed to free the three neighborhoods after killing some 25 IS militants and destroying two car bombs, the statement said.
The troops also reached the eastern bank of the Tigris in central the eastern side of the city and seized the Old Bridge and al-Hurriyah Bridge, which both are partially destroyed, the statement added.
The CTS special forces deployed many of their snipers on the roofs of some buildings in the University complex during the day, while many of IS militants were seen fleeing to the northern neighborhoods of Mosul's eastern side, where the extremist militants still have presence, according a CTS Brigadier General who spoke to Xinhua by telephone on condition of anonymity.
The recapture of Mosul University complex is a significant step, as the complex included important headquarters of the extremist group, the officer said, adding that the next significant target will be the former presidential palaces in eastern the city.
The Iraqi security force have so far recaptured up to 85 percent of the eastern side of Mosul, locally known as the left bank of the Tigris River which bisects the city, the officer said.
"The Iraqi forces will retake control of the whole left bank of Mosul city within the coming three or four days," the officer added.
In the northern front, the army soldiers backed by international aircraft continued their heavy battles in the neighborhood of al-Hadbaa and made a new progress to the adjacent neighborhoods of Modaraa Aameen and Kafa'at 2, according to the JOC statement.
So far, the soldiers managed to drive out IS militants from the northern parts of the three neighborhoods, leaving 38 IS militants killed and destroying a booby-trapped car along with six vehicles carrying heavy machine guns, the statement said.
In the southeastern front, the Iraqi federal police and army soldiers made no advance during the day, but they carried out clearing operations into the recently-freed neighborhoods of al-Salam, Sumer and al-Sahiron, killing at least 14 IS militants and destroying four booby-trapped cars, the statement added.
The battles in Mosul came as the CTS commandos, army troops and federal police launched on Dec. 29 the second phase of a major offensive to free the eastern side of Mosul.
Last month, battles in Mosul had been slowed as extremist militants used locals as human shields, resorted to suicide car bombs and made mortar and sniper attacks in stiff resistance.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a report issued earlier in the day that the military operations in Mosul have pushed up to 145,000 civilians to flee their homes in the city and its adjacent districts since the beginning of military offensive in October to reclaim the IS largest stronghold in Iraq.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Oct. 17 announced a major offensive to retake Mosul, the country's second largest city.
Since then, Iraqi security forces, backed by international coalition forces, have inched to the eastern fringes of Mosul and made progress on other routes around the city.
Mosul, some 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.