Mosul (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi government forces recaptured on Saturday Zanjili district in western Mosul, leaving only one district in Islamic State’ grip before reaching its strategic stronghold in the Old City neighborhood.
Federal Police chief Shaker Jawdat said in a statement that his forces went on clearing booby-traps from the district, adding they ran into a huge reservoir of projectiles and rocket launchers belonging to the group. Troops also continue to evacuate civilians escaping from al-Shifa neighborhood, the last remaining area near the Old City.
Iraqi government troops regained control over eastern Mosul in January after three months of fighting. Operations for the western side of the city launched in mid February, and Iraqi generals say a few hundreds of IS fighters remain in the Old City as a last refuge.
Iraqi forces began late April to advance towards the enclave from the northwest, having besieged it from the south for weeks to no avail.
The Old City hosts a grand mosque where IS supreme leader abu Bakr al-Baghdadi first declared the establishment of the group’s control over large areas of Iraq in 2014 through a famous sermon.
In an apparent attempt to hinder the troops’ advances, Islamic State militants on Saturday surprisingly attacked a supply route between Baghdad and Mosul which passes via the city of Shriqat, Salahuddin. The attack left civilian casualties.
A military source was quoted saying in a press statement that the “massive” attack targeted Shirqat, Makhoul region and desert areas to the southwest of Mosul. He said Iraqi warplanes and large ground reinforcements helped fight the militants off.
Shirqat mayor, Ali al-Dawdah, said a curfew was imposed in the city, but said troops, backed by Popular Mobilization Forces, managed to repel the attack and killed 16 militants.
DPA quoted an Iraqi security source saying 14 civilians, including three women and a little girl, were killed in the attack which reached a village on the outskirts of Shirqat. He added that intense fighting continued in the area.