Nineveh (IraqiNews.com) Seventy Islamic State militants were killed in Iraqi army airstrikes on western Mosul on Wednesday, said the defense ministry.
Those included twenty senior leaders as well as their guards who were holding a meeting a few kilometers west of the town of Tal Abta to plan for Iraqi troops besieging the strategic town of Tal Afar , the ministry said, quoting intelligence information.
Iraqi government forces, backed by tribal militias and US-led air forces, have been leading a military campaign to retake Mosul from ISIS since mid October. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Monday during a visit to Mosul’s Hammam al-Alil that two thirds of Nineveh have been retaken from ISIS. Government forces are eyeing the eastern shore of the Tigris River, which cuts through Mosul, so as to consummate the liberation of the eastern region.
ISIS remains in control of some areas of the western section, which is adjacent to its strongholds in Syria. But Al-Hashd al-Shaabi forces are reporting daily advances towards liberating ISIS locations in that region, saying the region had been isolated from Syria, depriving the group of supplies from Syria.
Earlier on Thursday, Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service declared it had has so far recaptured 40 out of 56 districts in eastern Mosul from Islamic State militants.