Mosul (IraqiNews.com) The Iraqi army said Monday it controls 50 percent of western Mosul as encounters heighten with Islamic State militants in the region.
Army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. Othman al-Ghanmi, said in statements that joint forces now control a half of western Mosul, adding that taking over the borders with Syria would help “completely stop the entry of terrorism to Iraq”.
“To be frank, fights are very ferocious, so we need more time after the defeat of Daesh (IS) terrorists, who are starting to break down, to clear cities from war leftovers and eliminate IS pockets,” Ghanmi said. “We expect a few security breaches here and there,” he added.
Iraqi government forces recaptured the eastern part of Mosul in January after three months of fighting for the city which fell to IS in 2014. A fresh offensive launched in February to retake the western region.
Troops are currently struggling to retake central Mosul, most significantly the Old City which Iraqi generals view as the most important prize in the battle for the west.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in an interview with Fox News Sunday that IS was nearing total defeat in Iraq, expecting victory over the militant group within weeks.