Iraqi forces recapture more villages at western Mosul town

Military vehicles of federal police are seen during a battle with Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq, March 6, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani – RTS11N8V

Nineveh ( Iraqi government forces have become in control over the western bank of the Tigris River as they recaptured more villages around a strategic town in western Mosul, with operations continuing to clear the region from Islamic State militants.

The Defense Ministry’s War Media Cell said Friday the forces took over the villages of Hamidat and Gammasa near the town of Badush. The outlet said the forces have become in full control over the western bank of the Tigris River.

Government troops and allied al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilization Units) have been liberating areas around the town and recently took over its infamous prison.

The Iraqi government launched a major offensive in February to retake western Mosul from Islamic State militants. The forces recaptured the eastern side of the city late January after three months of fighting.

In the western region, Iraqi forces have made remarkable gains, taking over a government complex last week that hosts the governor’s office, a main central bank branch, a police department, a courthouse and other public facilities. The forces had earlier retaken the city’s airport and biggest military camp.

The army’s Counter-Terrorism Service said last week government forces had become in control over 60 percent of the western side. Generals from the Iraqi side and the allied U.S.-led coalition had estimated six months needed to fully liberate the city which fell to the extremist group in 2014.

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