UPDATED: Iraqi forces storm 3 districts in eastern Mosul, kill 50 militants

Tanks of Iraqi army take part in an operation against Islamic State militants southeast of Mosul, Iraq November 26, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani

Nineveh ( Iraqi Federal Police forces killed at least 50 Islamic State militants in eastern Mosul on Tuesday as operations continue to recapture the extremist group’s last stronghold in Iraq.

A statement by the police service said the militants were killed as the forces stormed the districts of al-Mithaq and al-Shaimaa.

Earlier, Iraqi army forces stormed on the “Industrial district”, also in eastern Mosul.

A statement by the Defense Ministry’s War Medi Cell said the army’s elite Counter-Terrorism Forces are currently engaged in violent fights with IS militants in the district, saying that the area could be fully recaptured within hours.

The developments come as the government forces, backed by a US-led aerial cover, entered Thursday a second phase of operations that launched in October to retake Iraq’s second largest city which fell to IS in 2014.

Iraqi commanders said Sunday they recaptured 60 percent of the city’s eastern section. IS still maintains hideouts in the west 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 by 6000. But those are fighting against at least 100.000 government and militia soldiers.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said Saturday the battle for Mosul was entering a “decisive” stage, and predicted in December that the operations could realize final victory within two months.
Liberating Mosul, IS last outstanding stronghold in Iraq, could deal a final fatal blow to group’s influence in the country.

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