BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi troops in Mosul have battled their way to the Tigris River running through the center of town, marking a milestone in the nearly three-month-old offensive aimed at reclaiming the northern city from Islamic State militants.
Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Rasheed Yar Allah said special forces reached the river late Sunday and now control the eastern side of one of the city’s five bridges, all of which have been disabled by U.S.-led airstrikes in support of the offensive.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the recent advances were “big achievements for all the factions of the Iraqi security forces.”
“Thank God, our forces are liberating neighborhood after neighborhood,” he said Monday in a joint press conference with his Jordanian counterpart in Baghdad.
Most Read Nation & World Stories
- FEMA plans to test national alert system on Oct. 4
- ‘Victoria’s Secret Karen’ video: Lawsuits show what viewers didn’t see
- Human body found in the mouth of 14-foot Florida alligator
- David Brooks and the $78 airport meal the internet is talking about
- Sports on TV & radio: Local listings for Seattle games and events
In Mosul, Maj. Gen. Sami al-Aridi of the special forces told The Associated Press that troops were battling IS in the Baladiyat and Sukar neighborhoods after driving the extremists out of Muthana and Rifaq the day before. He said Iraqi forces repelled an overnight attack, killing 37 militants, without elaborating.
The Mosul offensive resumed last month after a two-week lull due to stiff IS resistance and bad weather. Since then, Iraqi forces have recaptured new areas in the city’s eastern half after receiving enforcements.
Mosul is Iraq’s second largest city and the extremist group’s last major urban bastion in the country. Iraqi special forces have done most of the fighting within the city, while Iraqi troops have advanced on it from different sides. Kurdish forces and Shiite militias have driven IS from surrounding areas and sought to cut off militant escape routes.
Mosul fell to IS in the summer of 2014, when the extremists swept across much of northern and western Iraq. Iraqi forces have gradually retaken most of that territory over the past three years, and outside of Mosul the militants are largely confined to smaller towns and villages.