MOSUL, Iraq, June 13 (Xinhua) -- Fierce battles against the Islamic State (IS) militants continued at the edge of the old city center on Tuesday, as the Iraqi government forces completed clearing al-Zanjili neighborhood, the Iraqi military said.
The federal police forces and the interior ministry elite forces, known as Raid Response, cleared the northern part of al-Zanjili neighborhood from the last pockets of IS militants and removed large number of landmines and traps set up earlier by the extremist militants, Abdul-Amir Yarallah from the Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a brief statement.
Meanwhile, the federal police forces, army soldiers and the commandos of the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) have pushed further against IS militants in the adjacent neighborhood of al-Shifaa under heavy clashes, the statement said.
The troops have been fighting back and forth street-to-street battles for more than two weeks in the two neighborhoods of al-Zanjili and al-Shifaa due to the stiff resistance of the extremist militants and the presence of civilians, who were used by IS militants as human shields.
Iraqi forces, backed by international coalition, are fighting to drive out IS militant from the western side of Mosul, locally known as the right bank of Tigris River, but 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.
Separately, the Iraqi F-16 jet fighters, based on intelligence report, conducted an air strike on suspected three car bomb-making sites in the IS-held town of Tal Afar, some 70 km west of Mosul, destroying the three sites and killing many IS militants inside, the JOC said in a separate statement.
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. Enditem