MOSUL, Iraq Iraqi government forces on Friday retook control of more areas from the Daesh militants in the city of Mosul, making a new progress for the first time in the northern city, China's Xinhua news agency reported the Iraqi military as saying.
The Iraqi army soldiers, backed by Iraqi and US-led coalition aircraft, advanced in the northern edge of the eastern side of Mosul and freed al-Mazari neighbourhood as well as the 168-building residential compound of Hadbaa after driving out the Daesh militants, a statement by the Iraqi Joint Operations Command said.
The battles left some 55 of the extremist militants killed and destroyed nine booby-trapped vehicles, the statement said.
The new advance was the first for the troops after they defeated the Daesh defensive lines in northern Mosul, the statement said, adding that the troops now are fighting at the edges of four neighborhoods.
In the eastern front, the elite forces of Iraq's Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) advanced in two routes; the first one was a night-time raid against Daesh militants when the troops crossed the Khuser tributary and managed to recapture al-Muthanna neighborhood after fierce clashes which resulted in the killing of dozens of Daesh militants and destroying four car bombs, the statement said.
The overnight attack surprised Daesh militants who did not expect the troops to attack at night, because all previous operations were during the day.
The second CTS route within the eastern front was advancing from the recently freed industrial area to the al-Baath neighbourhood and the northern part of the adjacent Wahda neighbourhood, sparking sporadic clashes with Daesh militants and killing dozens of them and destroying two car bombs, the statement added.
In the southeastern front, the Iraqi federal police and army soldiers continued their heavy fighting with slow progresses in Mosul's southeastern neighbourhoods of al-Salam, Palestine, al-Shaimaa, Domiez and Sumer, according to the statement.
The battles on Friday in southeastern Mosul left dozens of Daesh militants killed and 14 of their vehicles destroyed, it said.
The battles in Mosul came as the CTS commandos, army troops 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 neighborhoods in the eastern side of Mosul, locally known as the left bank of the Tigris which bisects the city.
Last month, battles in Mosul had been slowed as extremist militants used locals as human shields, resorted to suicide car bombs and made mortar and sniper attacks in stiff resistance.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said in a recent report that the military operations in Mosul, have pushed some 132,000 civilians to flee their homes in the city and its adjacent districts since the beginning of military offensive in October to reclaim the IS largest stronghold in Iraq.
More than 1.5 million people were trapped in the city of roughly two million population previously. Cold winter worsened the conditions for the displaced people who suffered severe shortages of food and water, while camps and other emergency shelters reached maximum capacity.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Oct 17 announced a major offensive to retake Mosul, the country's second largest city.
Since then, Iraqi security forces, backed by international coalition forces, have inched to the eastern fringes of Mosul and made progress on other routes around the city.
Mosul, some 400 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, has been under Daesh control since June 2014, when Iraqi government forces abandoned their weapons and fled, enabling Daesh militants to take control of parts of Iraq's northern and western regions.
Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK