Northern Mosul district recaptured from IS, makeshift bridges erected for west battles

Iraqi rapid response forces cary their weapons during battle with Islamic State militants in the Mithaq district of eastern Mosul, Iraq, January 4, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

Nineveh ( Iraqi joint government forces recaptured on Monday another district in northern Mosul from Islamic State militants, one in a handful of spots remaining within the extremist group’s grip.

The Ministry of Defense said in a statement forces recaptured the district of Qawsiyat and a few other neighboring villages. Its announcement comes a few hours after military sources told Sputnik News that troops had invaded the district of Rashidiya.

The ministry’s statement added that more than 50 islamic State militants were killed in the Monday battles, while six vehicles, a booby-trapping workshop and C4 jerrycans used by them were seized and destroyed.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said last week that troops had to free a few districts in northern Mosul to declare the eastern section of the city as totally IS-free, which would be the most remarkable victory over the extremist group since a campaign was launched to retake the city in mid October.

After retaking eastern Mosul, Iraqi generals hope to move immediately beyond the Tigris River towards Islamic State strongholds in the west, where military observers predict a tougher battle due to the higher density of the population.

A source at the Joint Operations Command said in a press statement on Monday that floating bridges had been extended above the Tigris River, preparing for the forces to move for battles at the western section of Mosul. He added that Iraqi fighter jets began to bombard IS locations in the west preparing for the battles, predicting a tougher battle there due to the density of the population residing narrow residential areas that are difficult to invade with military vehicles.

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