Iraqi forces said Monday they had taken more territory from the Takfiri ISIL group as they press an offensive that has seen them recapture a third of west Mosul and trap terrorists inside.
A renewed push launched on March 5 has forced ISIL out of several neighborhoods and key sites, including the main local government headquarters and the famed Mosul museum, tightening the noose around insurgents there.
West Mosul is the most-populated urban area still held by the Takfiris, followed by Syria’s Raqa, which is the last bastion of the terrorist group.
Iraq’s Joint Operations Command announced additional gains on Monday, saying that forces from the elite Counter-Terrorism Service had recaptured west Mosul’s Al-Nafat neighborhood.
Lieutenant General Raed Shakir Jawdat said that forces from the Rapid Response Division, another special forces unit, and the federal police were working to search and clear territory on the edge of Mosul’s Old City.
The forces are conducting “combing and search operations in the liberated areas of Bab al-Toub, searching for traps and mines and terrorists hiding among the people,” Jawdat said in a statement.
Mosul’s Old City — a warren of narrow streets and closely spaced buildings where hundreds of thousands of civilians are believed to still reside — could see some of the toughest fighting of the campaign to retake Iraq’s second city.
While CTS and Rapid Response are spearheading the advance inside Mosul, Iraqi army forces and pro-government paramilitaries are fighting ISIL to the west.