Two army soldiers killed during clashes with IS in western Mosul

Members of Iraqi rapid response forces are pictured during clashes with Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq March 13, 2017. REUTERS/Azad Lashkari

Mosul ( Two elite fighters from the Iraqi army were killed Monday during encounters with Islamic State militants in western Mosul, according to officers.

Cap. Jabbar Hassan, from the army’s elite Counter-Terrorism Service, told Anadolu Agency that two members from the force were killed during clashes that broke out late Sunday and extended through Monday morning at the Tenek and Thawra districts.

Hassan predicted that security troops would fully take over Tenek on Monday. Meanwhile, security sources were quoted saying Iraqi troops recaptured a third of al-Thawra, which troops invaded Sunday.

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. Troops are currently focusing on central Mosul’s Old City, which hosts the mosque where IS first declared the establishment of its rule in Iraq in 2014.

The Iraqi Joint Operations Command, which spearheads the campaign against IS in Mosul, has never given official tallies of its victims, and reports in that respect have relied on sporadic counts by officers in the field.

In March, the U.S. Central Command said 284 Iraqi troopers were killed since operations began in western Mosul, while 490 were killed during battles for the east. The Iraqi command had dismissed the numbers as exaggerated.

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