MOSUL, Iraq: Iraqi security forces advanced Monday towards a compound of jihadist-held government buildings and a bridgehead, on the second day of a renewed push in west Mosul, officers said.
The operation to retake west Mosul, the largest urban population center still in the hands of the Islamic State group, began on February 19, but had slowed amid several days of bad weather until a renewed drive began on Sunday.
The interior ministry’s elite Rapid Response forces “are advancing in the Al-Dawasa and Al-Dindan areas to liberate the government buildings and secure a route for families to leave,” Lieutenant Colonel Abdulamir Mohammedawi told Agence France-Presse.
The fighting in west Mosul has sparked an exodus from that side of the city, pushing more than 45,000 people to flee, according to the International Organization for Migration.
The Nineveh provincial government buildings are close to Al-Hurriyah Bridge, but “we have not yet reached the bridge, we are meters (yards) from it,” Mohammedawi said.
Mosul is divided by the Tigris River, and while the series of bridges crossing it have either been damaged or destroyed, they would provide a link between the Iraqi government-held east and IS-held west Mosul if they can be repaired or otherwise bridged.
Iraqi forces recaptured the western side of the fourth bridge, which is south of Al-Hurriyah, at the end of last month.
IS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces backed by US-led air strikes and other support have since regained most of the ground they lost. AFP