UPDATED: Iraqi troops recapture western Mosul hotel, two districts

Iraqi rapid response members move from house to house through a hole in a wall to avoid being hit by Islamic State snipers in western Mosul, Iraq March 9, 2017. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra – RTS124MA

Nineveh ( Iraqi government forces recaptured a hotel building and two districts in western Mosul from Islamic State militants, news reports quoted the security command and security sources saying.

Iraqi media outlets, quoting security authorities, said in breaking news that the government forces recaptured the Nabi Sheet and Okaidat districts, both adjacent to the Old City, a major target for Iraqi troops leading the offensive against IS in western Mosul.

Sputnik News agency also quoted an Iraqi security source Friday saying that members from the Interior Ministry’s Rapid Response forces raised the Iraqi flag above the Palestine Hotel.

In the westernmost region of Mosul, the pro-government al-Hashd al-Shaabi (Populat Mobilization Units) killed four IS militants who attacked the village of Dernaj, which was recaptured by the PMUs hours earlier, according to the Defense Ministry’s War Media Cell.

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.

The conflict in Mosul has so far forced more than 250.000 people to flee their homes to refugee camps, according to data from the United Nations and the Iraqi government.

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