An Iraqi family walk on a street in eastern Mosul as they flee away from the ongoing military operation against Islamic State, Mosul, Iraq, on Jan. 15, 2017. Iraqi forces on Sunday continued fighting the Islamic State (IS) group on the eastern side of the city of Mosul and retook control of two neighborhoods, as the troops are pushing towards the eastern bank of Tigris River in the northern part of the city, the Iraqi military said. (Xinhua/Khalil Dawood)
MOSUL, Iraq, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi forces on Sunday continued fighting the Islamic State (IS) group on the eastern side of the city of Mosul and retook control of two neighborhoods, as the troops are pushing towards the eastern bank of Tigris River in the northern part of the city, the Iraqi military said.
On the northern front, the army soldiers, backed by the U.S.-led coalition aircraft, freed the neighborhood of al-Kafaat Second and raised the Iraqi flags on some of its buildings after intense fighting with IS militants, killing many of them and destroying two car bombs, the Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a statement.
The latest advance on the front brought the troops closer to the site of the former presidential palaces on the bank of the Tigris, which are considered part of the main IS redoubts in eastern Mosul, the statement said.
On the eastern front, the commandos of the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) recaptured the neighborhood of Andulos after defeating the IS pockets in the adjacent sprawling complex of Mosul University, the statement said, adding that the troops killed many militants and destroyed two booby-trapped cars.
Recapturing Andulos has made Iraqi troops at the edge of Mosul's Park on the eastern bank of the Tigris, where one of Mosul's five bridges is located.
"The battle in the Park will be easier for the CTS troops, as there are no residential buildings, then the use of heavy weapons and airstrikes will be more possible," Captain Haider Ali from CTS forces told Xinhua by telephone.
"The recapture of the Park will make the troops in control of the 3rd Bridge which links the two banks of Mosul city," Haider said.
So far, security forces are in control of three of Mosul's five bridges on the Tigris River, which bisects the city.
On Saturday, Lieutenant General Abdul Amir Yarallah from the JOC said in a statement that the federal police and army soldiers completely had retaken control of the southern part of the eastern side of Mosul.
He said that the advance troops, which started from southeastern Mosul, have fulfilled their mission and are carrying out clearing operations in the freed areas to defuse booby traps and chase residual IS militants.
According to the JOC officers, the Iraqi forces have recaptured some 90 percent of the neighborhoods of the eastern side of Mosul.
On Dec. 29, the CTS commandos, army troops and federal police launched the second phase of a major offensive to free the eastern bank of Mosul.
Last month, battles in Mosul slowed down as extremist militants used civilians as human shields, resorted to suicide car bombs and made mortar and sniper attacks in stiff resistance.
On Oct. 17, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi 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.