Iraq forces reach key Mosul bridge

Feb 28, 2017, 00:42

Residents in Mosul's southwestern al-Jawsaq and Dawasa neighborhoods told CNN late Friday night that ISIS militants were setting fire to shops there as they battled Iraqi forces.

In Iraq, more than a thousand civilians have fled western Mosul as Iraqi troops push deeper into ISIL held areas.

East and west Mosul are divided by the Tigris, and US-led coalition airstrikes have damaged all five bridges connecting the two sides in an effort to contain the militants in the west.

Iraqi warplanes have struck Daesh targets inside Syria in retaliation for recent bomb attacks in Baghdad by the group, Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi said on Friday.

Iraqi forces declared eastern Mosul "fully liberated" in January after officially launching the operation to retake the city in October.

Mosul has been under the control of Islamic State since June 2014.

SDF refers to an Arab-Kurdish alliance predominantly made up of fighters from the Kurdish People's Protection Units (YPG), the armed wing of the Democratic Union Party (PYD) that controls large swathes of northern Syria.

American and Iraqi generals say the fighting will be "house-to-house" in buildings where IS militants have deliberately placed themselves among the civilian population and in which they have constructed an elaborate network of tunnels to move themselves and their weapons.

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Iraqi troops have already captured the southern and western accesses to western Mosul, dislodging the militants from the airport, a military base, a power station and one residential district, al-Maamoun, according to military statements.

Western advisors are increasingly present close to the frontline, helping coordinate air strikes and advising Iraqi forces as the battle unfolds.

The blast killed Ms Gardi, the commander, and four other fighters, Rudaw said in a statement yesterday.

The U.S. -led global coalition against the Islamic State carried out dozens of airstrikes on Monday, Iraqi officials said. Iraq has thrown several elite units into the fight for Mosul, including the 9th Army division and all 14 battalions of US -trained counterterrorism troops, but they need plenty of logistical support.

The United Nations has described a humanitarian crisis in the area with people facing severe shortages of food, fuel and medical supplies.

"We want to return to our home in Mafraq al-Qayyara", south of Mosul, said 28-year-old Mohammad Allawi Zeidan, as he walked with a group of two dozen people on an agricultural road between Mosul airport and the Tigris river nearby.

Hassan-Yari noted that government forces and their coalition partners have imposed restrictions on firepower available to retake the western sectors "in order to save the lives of civilians".

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