MOSUL, Iraq, June 15 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi government forces, battling Islamic State (IS) militants recaptured on Thursday a neighborhood at the north edge of Mosul's old city center, while the troops fighting clearing areas from IS militants infiltrated the day before in the south of the old city, the Iraqi military said.
The Iraqi soldiers liberated Bab Sinjar neighborhood and initiated a new progress into the adjacent al-Farouq area deeper into the major IS redoubt in the old city center in the western side of Mosul, Abdul-Amir Yarallah from the Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a brief statement.
The latest progress is the first penetration for the security forces in the north edge of the old city, as the troops are still fighting back and forth street-to-street battles for more than two weeks in the neighborhood of al-Shifaa just north of the old city, 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 most of the densely-populated old city center, are still under control of the extremist militants.
Meanwhile, the federal police and the interior ministry special forces, known as Rapid Response, are carrying out search operation in the neighborhoods of al-Taiyran, al-Danadan and al-Jawsaq in south of the old city center, looking for IS militants who infiltrated the day before in the three neighborhoods, Major General Thamir al-Husseini, commander of the Rapid Response forces told Xinhua.
In the early hours of Wednesday, dozens of IS militants, many of them wearing suicide vests, penetrated the federal police lines at the south edge of Mosul's old city center, after blowing up seven car bombs, while dozens others of extremist militants sneaked down the Tigris River and attacked the forces from behind, another security source anonymously told Xinhua.
The attackers on Wednesday seized parts of the three neighborhoods, but the troops fought them back and retook control of the areas after killing more than 50 militants, according to Husseini.
"Heavy sporadic clashes (are) still underway as our troops are surrounding some IS pockets in the three neighborhoods. It is a matter of hours for the troops to eliminate the terrorist," Husseini added.
According to the Iraqi military, over 95 percent of the city has been retaken from IS in the ongoing major offensive launched in October last year.
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