Iraqi forces make gains against Islamic State in Mosul
- 13 January 2017
Iraqi special forces stormed the Mosul University complex in the city's northeast on Friday and pushed Islamic State back to reach two further bridges across the Tigris river, the military said, APA reports quoting Reuters.
The militants were fighting back at Mosul University, which they seized when they took over the city in 2014. A Reuters reporter witnessed heavy clashes inside the campus.
Iraqi forces have recaptured most districts in eastern Mosul in nearly three months of a U.S.-backed offensive, which accelerated at the turn of the year with new tactics and better coordination.
They aim to take full control of the eastern bank of the Tigris river, which bisects Mosul from north to south, before launching attacks on the west, still fully in Islamic State hands.
Driving the ultra-hardline Islamist group out of its Mosul stronghold will probably spell the end for the Iraqi side of the caliphate it has declared, stretching into Syria.
By late on Friday, Iraqi elite forces had taken control of part of the university complex and reached two more of the five bridges that link east and west Mosul, Sabah al-Numan, spokesman for the counter-terrorism service (CTS) said.
"God willing, in a very short while we will announce the clearing of the entire left bank ... there are not many areas left (under IS control) on this bank," he told state television.
Iraqi forces have now reached Mosul's three southernmost bridges, having battled their way to the Fourth Bridge several days ago.