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Elite Iraqi forces capture Mosul airport

Iraqi forces launched an offensive in Mosul on October 17 [Getty]

Date of publication: 23 February, 2017

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Iraqi forces captured Mosul International Airport on Thursday, just hours after storming the IS-held facility.
Iraqi forces captured control of Mosul International Airport on Thursday, hours after entering the facility to battle Islamic State militants.

Federal police forces and the interior ministry's elite Rapid Response were among those involved in the latest operation to capture the disused airport, which lies on the southern approach to Mosul and is still held by IS.

"We will reach it today God willing," Brigadier General Abbas al-Juburi of the Rapid Response force told AFP earlier.

On Sunday, thousands of security personnel launched a fresh push in their four-month-old offensive to retake Mosul, the second city and the last stronghold of the militants in Iraq.

It is unclear how many militants were defending the airport but US officials said on Monday that only around 2,000 remain in Mosul – most of which have been pushed towards the west of the city.

Government forces blitzed through some of the last open areas between their lines and the city limits on the west bank of the Tigris River which runs through Mosul, and elite troops are expected to enter the west of the city in the coming days.

The battle for Mosul began on October 17 and coalition-backed Iraqi troops have pushed IS from the city's eastern side. 

But the battle for the west is expected to be a brutal fight and will take place in a packed urban environment.

The fighting has already led to the displacement of thousands, although many have started to return to the eastern parts of the city.

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