August 17, 2017

Mosul offensive: Iraqi forces recapture airport in bid to retake city

garIraqi security forces have recaptured Mosul airport, a key part of the government’s offensive to drive the so-called Islamic State (IS) from the western half of the city.
The operation took four hours. IS continued to fire mortars at the airport from further inside the city after losing the ground to the army.
The jihadists have also entered a nearby military base amid further clashes, a military spokesman said.
Eastern Mosul was retaken last month.
The airport’s runway has been destroyed by IS, but BBC Middle East Correspondent Quentin Sommerville, who is embedded with Iraqi federal police units, says it still has value.
It’s a large piece of land, and controlling it will help secure southern routes to west Mosul, our correspondent says.
The assault began with overnight air strikes by the US-led coalition before armoured columns advanced to the airport’s perimeter.

An Iraqi lieutenant was killed by one of the roadside bombs planted in the area by IS, the BBC has learned.
Iraqi forces also came under fire from IS militants who had holed up inside airport buildings, reports said.
Thousands of Iraqi troops, backed by artillery and air power, are involved in the assault to retake Mosul.
Leaflets warning residents of an imminent offensive were earlier dropped over western Mosul, where military officials say narrow winding streets could make retaking the area particularly difficult.
Although slightly smaller than the east, western Mosul is more densely populated and includes districts seen as pro-IS.
The UN has voiced concern about the welfare of civilians trapped in the city, amid reports that they could number up to 650,000.

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