Iraqi forces on Thursday battled terrorist holdouts in the last pockets of east Mosul still held by gunmen from the so-called ‘Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant’ (ISIL) terrorist group, a top commander said.
The head of Iraq’s elite Counter-Terrorism Service, which has been doing most of the fighting in Mosul, as well as Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced Wednesday that the city’s east bank had been “liberated”.
Staff Lieutenant General Abdulghani al-Assadi, a top commander in the CTS, told AFP that his forces were helping the Iraqi army battle remaining terrorists in two areas in the north of the city that include the presidential palaces and a hotel.
Both places are on the east bank of the Tigris River that divides Mosul, whose western side is still under full ISIL control.
The general said that on Thursday morning, “there was clashing with snipers and also (machinegun) positions, and they were dealt with by coalition aviation and now our units are going to complete the clearing operation.”
While CTS and other forces continued to clear areas in east Mosul, the announcement on Wednesday that one half of the city had been retaken marked the end of a major phase in the three-month-old operation to recapture the terrorists’ last major bastion in Iraq.
Hundreds of thousands of civilians still live on the west bank and more tough fighting is expected when Iraqi forces redeploy to tackle the other side of the city.