Mosul (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi police forces fighting Islamic State militants in western Mosul took over an office belonging to the group and killed a Russian member, the forces commander said Tuesday.
Federal Police chief Shaker Jawdat said his troops took over Islamic State’s so-called “health department” office in the strategic Old City. He said in a statement that forces erected barricades around al-Farouq district, and killed Abu Hajir al-Rusi, a Russian IS member, in a rocket attack in the nearby al-Thawra district.
Iraqi government troops, backed by a U.S.-led coalition and paramilitary forces, recaptured eastern Mosul in January after three months of fighting, and launched a renewed offensive in February to retake the western region.
The Joint Operations Command said earlier this month that Islamic State militants were only in control over 6.8 percent of territory of Iraq.
Police forces invaded the Old City two days ago, after besieging the densely populated area for weeks. Since the campaign for western Mosul was launched, operations have occasionally slowed down around the Old City, an area which Iraqi generals view as pivotal for the awaited victory over IS. Iraqi commanders were quoted saying they were slowing operations and ceasing airstrikes at the area to avoid civilian casualties. Islamic State’s reliance on snipers and suicide attackers, as well as the narrow structure of the Old City’s streets, had also contributed to the slowing pace of security efforts.