MOSUL, Iraq, July 9 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi forces battling Islamic State (IS) militants on Sunday recaptured a new area and pushed the remaining extremist militants into last pocket in the Old City in the western side of Mosul, the Iraqi military said.
The commandos of the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) liberated al-Maidan area in the heavily-populated Old City center and reached the bank of the Tigris River, Abdul-Amir Yarallah from the Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a statement.
The CTS and the army's 9th Armored Division are still fighting heavy house-to-house clashes against IS militants into the narrow alleys in the last two pockets in the neighborhoods of al-Qlei'at and al-Shahwan in the Old City, a security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.
The fighting in the Old City is becoming heavier as Iraqi forces push the extremist IS militants into the strip of land along the bank of the Tigris River.
The desperate militants have been increasingly resorting to suicide attacks and showing stiff resistance that slowed the troops' progress in recent days.
And there were a large number of roadside bombs and booby-trapped buildings, in addition to IS snipers taking positions in the buildings and narrow alleys of heavily-populated neighborhoods, where thousands of civilians still live under IS rule.
Mosul, 400 km north of Iraq's capital Baghdad, came 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.