MOSUL, Iraq, June 27 (Xinhua) -- The Iraqi military said on Tuesday that 50 percent of Mosul's old city center has been liberated so far from Islamic State (IS) militants.
"The Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) forces, army's 16th Division and the federal police forces have engaged in operations resulted, until this evening, in liberating 50 percent of the old city in the western side of Mosul," the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a statement.
The statement named several neighborhoods still under the control of the extremist IS militants, including al-Farouq al-Thaniyah, Raas al-Kour, al-Maidan, Bab al-Jadid, Bab al-Toub and Sarijkhanah, along with other areas.
In earlier statement on Tuesday, Abdul-Amir Yarallah from the JOC said the army's 16th Infantry Division retook control of al-Mashahda neighborhood of the old city of Mosul, and they raised the Iraqi flag on some of its buildings.
Meanwhile, the federal police forces liberated al-Beidh and Raas al-Jadda areas in the western side of the old city, Yarallah said in a separate statement.
Also in the day, the interior ministry's elite forces, known as Rapid Response, are fighting to free the remaining part of al-Shifaa neighborhood, the only residential area left under IS outside the old city, according to a statement by the media office of the Rapid Response special forces.
The Rapid Response commandos are surrounding dozens of IS militants from different nationalities who have been holed up inside a hospital compound in al-Shifaa neighborhood, just north of the old city, the media office said.
During the past few weeks, the CTS forces, federal police, Rapid Response forces and army soldiers made slow progress due to the stiff resistance of IS militants and a large number of roadside bombs and booby-trapped buildings, in addition to IS snipers who took positions in the buildings of heavily-populated neighborhoods.
According to UN reports, some 100,000 civilians are still trapped in the IS-held areas in the old city center and the adjacent al-Shifaa neighborhood. The extremist group is using the civilians as human shields.
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.