Iraqi forces liberate new neighborhood in western Mosul

Source: Xinhua| 2017-05-22 23:04:51|Editor: yan
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MOSUL, Iraq, May 22 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi forces recaptured a new neighborhood in Mosul on Monday following heavy clashes with Islamic State (IS) militants, said the Iraqi military.

The operation is part of an operation which launched a new front in the northern part of an IS stronghold in Mosul's western side.

Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) commandos regained control of the neighborhood of al-Najjar in the north of an IS stronghold in Mosul.

Subsequently the commandos raised the Iraqi flag on top of some of Mosul's buildings, said Abdul-Amir Yarallah from the Joint Operations Command (JOC) in a brief statement.

Two days ago, CTS forces chief, Talib Sheghati, announced that his CTS mission was finalized despite ongoing battles in a few neighborhoods north of Mosul's western area.

However, he said the forces are prepared to carry out any further operation if Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi orders it.

"The forces of the CTS completed their assigned mission on the right bank, but stand ready to carry out any mission ordered by the Prime Minister," Sheghati said in a statement on Saturday.

The liberation of al-Najjar comes eight days after CTS, the army, federal police and the interior ministry's elite Rapid Response forces, launched a new offensive into several neighborhoods in the north of Mosul's western side.

Troops are currently advancing further into remaining neighborhoods on the northern edge of the city center in order to tighten the noose around the IS stronghold in Mosul's old neighborhoods.

It is believed roughly 400,000 residents are still trapped under IS rule there.

Late in January, Abadi, also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, announced the liberation of Mosul's eastern side, or the river Tigris's left bank, after over 100 days of fighting against IS militants.

On Feb. 19, Abadi announced the launch of an offensive to drive extremist militants out Mosul's western side.

However, Mosul's western part, with its narrow streets and heavily populated neighborhoods, seemed a bigger challenge to Iraqi forces.

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