World Bulletin / News Desk
Iraqi anti-terrorism forces on Thursday captured the southwestern Al-Maamoun district in their first victory in western Mosul, an Iraqi military source told Anadolu Agency.
“Anti-terrorism forces have directly engaged the ISIL terrorist group in the western side of the city,” Army Lieutenant-Colonel Abdel Salam al-Jubouri confirmed to Anadolu Agency.
According to security officials, several parts of the Al-Maamoun district -- located on the Mosul-Baghdad highway -- are now under the army’s control.
“Iraqi joint forces, comprised of Federal Police personnel and rapid-response units, have driven ISIL elements from adjacent areas [of Al-Maamoun] in the direction of the Mosul airport,” Federal Police Captain Sabhan Ali al-Shuwaily told Anadolu Agency.
In a related development Thursday, Iraqi forces also captured the Mosul airport to the south of the city, according to another Iraqi security source.
“Our rapid-response forces have managed to establish control over the airport, securing the airport’s runway and terminal, while clashes on the airport’s outskirts continue,” Staff Brigadier-General Abdelaziz al-Mosawi, an officer with the army’s rapid-reaction forces, told Anadolu Agency.
Unfortunately, al-Mosawi said, some 90 percent of the airport had been destroyed by ISIL terrorists or by earlier bombing by the U.S.-led coalition.
On Sunday, the Iraqi army began a fresh operation aimed at purging remaining ISIL terrorists from Mosul’s western districts.
The offensive comes as part of a wider operation launched last October to retake the entire city, which ISIL overran in mid-2014.