MOSUL, Iraq, The Iraqi government forces extended its grip in the eastern side of the Daesh stronghold in the city of Mosul in northern Iraq, as fierce clashes continued against the extremist militants, the Iraqi military said.

In the eastern front, the elite forces of Iraq's Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS), recaptured the neighbourhood of 7th Nisan, and cleared the adjacent neighbourhood of Sukkar, amid fierce clashes with the extremist militants, a statement by the Iraqi Joint Operations Command said.

The battles in the two neighbourhoods left some 40 militants killed and three booby-trapped cars destroyed, the statement said.

The CTS commandos also freed the al-Maliyah neighbourhood and raised the Iraqi flag over some of its buildings, leaving dozens of militants killed and two of their car bombs destroyed, the source said.

The recapture of 7th Nisan, al-Maliyah and other nearby neighbourhoods will pave the way for the troops to seize the eastern bank of the Tigris River, which will be crucial to launch the next phase of attacks on the western side of Mosul.

In the south-eastern front, the Iraqi federal police and army continued their advance into the neighbourhoods of al-Salam, Palestine, Sumer, Yarimja and Sahiron, amid heavy fighting with the militants, leaving dozens of militants killed and destroying a car bomb and two vehicles, carrying terrorist militants, the statement said.

In the northern front, the army, backed by international aircraft, continued their heavy battles in the neighbourhood of al-Hadbaa and nearby areas, leaving dozens of militants killed and wounded, along with destroying seven booby-trapped vehicles, it added.

The battles in Mosul came as the CTS commandos, army and federal police launched, on Dec 29, the second phase of a major offensive to free Mosul.

The troops made their new push into several neighbourhoods in the eastern side of Mosul, locally known as the left bank of the Tigris River.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said in a recent report that, the military operations in Mosul have pushed about 136,000 civilians to flee their homes in the city and its adjacent districts, since the beginning of military offensive in Oct, to reclaim the Daesh largest stronghold in Iraq.