Updated: Iraqi forces recapture eastern Mosul district

Iraqi rapid response forces ride in a military vehicle during a fight with Islamic State militants in Intisar district of eastern Mosul, Iraq, (Reuters)

Nineveh ( Iraqi army’s elite Counter-Terrorism Forces recaptured on Friday a new district in eastern Mosul as operations proceed to clear the region from Islamic State militants, the operations’ commander said.

The forces managed to cross al-Khawsar river and liberated al-Muthanna district in the eastern section of the city, according to Lt. Gen. Abdulamr Yarallah, commander of the joint forces operations in Nineveh. He said forces raised the Iraqi flag on the district.

Iraqi government forces, backed by popular militias and a US-led international military coalition, have been carrying out a major campaign since October to retake Mosul from militants. The recapture of Mosul, IS last outstanding stronghold in Iraq, could deal a last blow to the group’s existence in the country.

Iraqi generals have said recently they had become in control over 70 of Mosul’s eastern section. But IS militants have regularly bombed areas they have lost to security forces since operations kicked off in October to recapture Iraq’s second largest city.

IS still maintains hideouts in the western section of the city that are close to its strongholds in Syria, but Iraqi generals and allied militia leaders say the group has become isolated from Syria and Iraq.

Security officials estimate the number of remaining IS combatants in Iraq by 6000, but those are fighting against at least 100.000 government and militia soldiers.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in December the battle for Mosul was entering a “decisive” stage, and predicted that the operations could realize final victory within two months.

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