Iraq special forces advance further in eastern Mosul: spokesman

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 09, 2017 6:54 AM

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Iraqi special forces made further advances against Islamic State in Mosul on Monday, pushing militants out of another district a day after driving them back to the eastern bank of the Tigris river, a spokesman said.

The elite counter-terrorism service (CTS) had taken full control of the Baladiyat district and encircled neighbouring Sukkar, Sabah al-Numan told Reuters.

The advance also consolidated Iraqi forces' control of several districts close to the ruins of the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh, east of the river.

A U.S.-backed offensive to drive Islamic State out of Mosul, its last major Iraqi stronghold, has gained momentum since the beginning of the year.

CTS forces reached the east bank of the Tigris on Sunday, an advance which will eventually enable them to begin assaults on the city's west, all of which IS still holds.

Recapture of Mosul after more than two years of Islamic State rule would probably spell the end of its self-declared caliphate, which spans areas of Iraq and Syria.

(Reporting by Ahmed Rasheed, writing by John Davison, editing by Angus MacSwan)