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Iraq liberates Mosul museum where IS smashed priceless artifacts Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Iraq liberates Mosul museum where IS smashed priceless artifacts

Iraqi forces liberated the east of the city in January [Getty]

Date of publication: 7 March, 2017

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Iraqi forces made headway during the latest push to recapture the west of Mosul from Islamic State militants on Tuesday.

Iraqi forces recaptured several sites in west Mosul on Tuesday, including the provincial government headquarters and the city's museum, in the third day of a new drive against the Islamic State group.

Security troops involved in the operation to retake the groups' largest remaining urban stronghold also captured a second bridgehead on the River Tigris, a commander confirmed.

"The heroes of the federal police and Rapid Response liberate the government building for Nineveh province and control the second bridge (al-Hurriyah Bridge)," the Joint Operations Command said in a statement.

Moments later, Iraqi forces took full control of the Mosul museum only to find it had been vandalised by the militants during their reign.

Reports also suggest the Turkish consulate was recaptured some three years after it had been overran by the Islamic State group.

Mosul, Iraq's second city, is the capital of Nineveh province and an operation was launched to recapture it on October 17. However, the advance had slowed in the face of several days of bad weather until a renewed push began on Sunday.

British and US military instructors have been training Iraqi soldiers in the use of floating bridges for precisely this kind of situation.

One building at a time

The city is divided by the Tigris River, and while bridges crossing it have been either damaged or destroyed, they would provide a link between the government-held east and IS-held west if they can be repaired or otherwise bridged.

British and US military instructors have been training Iraqi soldiers in the use of floating bridges for precisely this kind of situation.

Iraq's Bridging Battalion currently numbers around 90 troops and a further 25 are completing training.

Meanwhile, Iraqi forces have retaken a series of government buildings in west Mosul since launching their renewed offensive.

The elite Rapid Response Division and federal police forces have recaptured the provincial police headquarters, the courts complex and the water, electricity and sewage directorates.

The Counter Terrorism Service, the country's premier special forces unit, retook al-Sumood neighbourhood, another target in the drive, and attacked Al-Mansur.

'Rising death toll'

The fighting in west Mosul has forced more than 50,000 people to flee, the International Organisation for Migration said.

"The media has yet to report even a fraction of what is really happening in Mosul right now," Dr Adam Sauderson told The New Arab.

"The death toll is increasing on a daily basis while the UN, aid agencies and human rights organisations watch on," he said, adding that "Baghdad and Washington are focused solely on winning the battle".

The operation involves an array of forces taking part but CTS and Rapid Response ultimately playing the leading roles.

In January, Iraqi forces retook the last neighbourhood of east Mosul still in IS hands.

IS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces backed by US-led airstrikes and other support have since regained most of the ground they lost.

The militants have also lost large swathes of territory in neighbouring Syria, threatening the end of the cross-border "caliphate" they declared in June 2014.

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