Iraqi forces storm 4 districts in central Mosul, alleged Baghdadi’s cousin arrested

An Iraqi special forces soldier fires at a drone operated by Islamic State militants Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq, March 4, 2017. REUTERS/Goran Tomasevic

Nineveh ( Iraqi government forces pushed deeper Sunday into western Mosul seeking to drive out Islamic State extremists, storming four major districts, while a video claimed to show the arrest of the cousin of the group’s supreme leader.

Chief of the Joint Operations Command’s operations in Nineveh, Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Yarallah, said in a statement that Federal Police and Rapid Response forces invaded the districts of Dindan and Dawasah, in the easternmost area of western Mosul, while the Counter-Terrorism Force invaded al-Sumoud and Tal al-Rumman in the westernmost area.

Iraqi forces recaptured eastern Mosul in January, ending three months of fighting to retake the city which fell to Islamic State militants in 2014. A new offensive began in mid February to retake the western region, with generals from the Iraqi forces and the allied U.S.-led coalition reporting faster collapses and weaker resistance on IS behalf.

Western Mosul is smaller in space from the eastern side, albeit denser in population and residential areas, with officials predicting to retake that area within six months.

On Sunday, social media outlets circulated a video showing police forces walking a handcuffed, bearded militant whom they claimed to be the cousin of Islamic State’s supreme leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. The officers did not mention the militants exact name. Baghdadi’s exact location and survival have been subject to clashing, unconfirmed reports since operations to free the city sat out.

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