Iraqi federal police forces – backed by U.S. air support – entered Mosul International Airport and took control of the runway from the Islamic State, an official said Thursday.
Thursday’s advance is part of a major assault that started five days ago to drive ISIS militants from the western half of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.
Two police officers said the airport buildings were under fire from Iraqi forces. They would not provide more information but said the U.S.-led coalition is with the advancing forces.
Reuters reported Monday that Iraqi forces were closing in on the airport after pushing ISIS fighters back at a nearby hill. The troops were working on regaining the west side of the city and overtaking the airport completely would be a major blow to militants.
Mosul fell to ISIS in the summer of 2014, along with large swaths of northern and western Iraq. ISIS is estimated to have between 1,000 and 3,000 fighters in Mosul, Col. John Dorrian, the Baghdad-based spokesman told Pentagon reporters Wednesday.
Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, a top U.S. commander in Iraq, said Monday the Iraqi forces are an "increasingly capable, formidable and professional force."
"Mosul would be a tough fight for any army in the world, and the Iraqi forces have risen to the challenge," he said in a statement.
Ground units pushed into a belt of villages outside the country's second-largest city Sunday and plumes of smoke rose into the sky early in the morning as U.S.-led coalition jets struck militant positions southwest of Mosul and militarized Iraqi police fired artillery.Read More...
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