Commander: security advances in central Mosul halt again over bad weather

Iraqi soldiers gather to go battle against Islamic State militants south of Mosul, Iraq, June 15, 2016. REUTERS/Stringer

Ninveh ( Iraqi forces are halting ground advances against Islamic State in western Mosul again over inclement weather conditions, according to a senior Interior Ministry commander.

Maj. Gen. Thamer Ismail, commander of the Rapid Response forces,l was quoted as saying in a press statement Thursday that security operations for Thursday were going to rely merely on drone strikes, rockets and artillery bombardments without ground offensives due to “bad weather conditions and rains,”

Ismail said his forces were 600 meters away from the Grand Nuri Mosque in central Mosul, the spot from where IS supreme leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivered a sermon declaring the establishment of an “Islamic Caliphate” in Iraq in 2014.

He added that ground offensives would continue once the weather improves.

Iraqi commanders said recently they became in control over 60 percent of western Mosul since operations to recapture that area launched in February. The government said late January its forces fully retook the eastern side of the city.

On Wednesday, the troops regained control over the third of Mosul’s five bridges which connect both sides of the city, and said earlier they recaptured 90 percent of the Old City, a densely-structured district which Iraqi commanders view as essential for victory over IS.

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