Iraqi troops seize main bridge, advance on mosque in battle for Mosul
Iraqi government forces battling Islamic State for Mosul took control of a main bridge over the Tigris river on Wednesday and advanced towards the mosque where the group's leader declared a caliphate in 2014, federal police said, APA reports quoting Reuters.
The seizure of the Iron Bridge, linking eastern Mosul with the militant-held Old City on the west side, means the government holds three of the five bridges over the Tigris and bolsters Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's assertion that the battle is reaching its final stages.
The bridge, which was damaged in fighting late last year, was captured by federal police and Interior Ministry Rapid Response units, a police statement said.
The gains were made in heavy fighting in which troops fought street-by-street against an enemy using suicide car bombs, mortar and sniper fire, and grenade-dropping drones to defend what was once their main stronghold.
"Our troops are making a steady advance ... and we are now less than 800 meters from the mosque," a federal police spokesman said.
Losing the city would be a huge blow to Islamic State as it has served as the group's de facto capital since its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed himself head of a caliphate spanning Iraq and Syria from the Nuri Mosque in July 2014.
The capture of the mosque would thus be a huge symbolic victory as well as a concrete gain. But many hard days of fighting could still lie ahead as government forces try to make headway in the streets and narrow alleyways of the Old City.
Islamic State fighters have booby-trapped houses, and government forces will also be fighting amongst civilians, ruling out the extensive use of air and artillery support.
Heavy fighting was also reported on Wednesday around the Mosul museum by journalists and combatants. An Islamic State suicide car bomb exploded near the museum. Helicopters strafed the ground with machinegun fire and missiles.
Related news releases
- 22.02.2018Ziyad Sabsabi: "There are about 15 children who lost their parents in Iraq"
- 22.02.2018North Korea canceled planned meeting with Pence
- 21.02.2018North Korea cancelled talks with US Vice President
- 21.02.2018Talks between Erbil, Baghdad reach final stages: PM
- 20.02.2018Russian Center for Syrian Reconciliation comes under massive fire
- 20.02.2018Palestine ready to exchange minor territories with Israel - Abbas
- 20.02.2018Turkish President: Syrian forces tried to enter Afrin, retreated after Turkey's shelling
- 20.02.2018YPG/PKK-Daesh terror groups shell Turkey's south Hatay
- 20.02.2018Maldives leader seeks approval to extend state of emergency
- 19.02.2018Three Iranian police killed in clashes with Sufi protesters
- 19.02.2018Islamic State kills 27 Iraqi militiamen near Kirkuk
- 19.02.2018Israel, Egypt sign $15bn natural gas purchase agreement
- 19.02.2018Kurdish region flight ban to be lifted soon: Iraqi PM
- 18.02.2018Daesh doesn’t represent Islam: Iraqi PM
- 18.02.20182 Turkish soldiers martyred, one injured in operations
- 17.02.2018Turkish, Iraqi PMs stress cooperation against terrorism
- 17.02.20184 Israeli troops injured by explosive device near Gaza
- 17.02.2018Turkish PM: 'We have given terrorist organizations the Ottoman slap'
- 16.02.2018PYD/PKK terrorist admits to posing as civilian
- 16.02.20187 Turkish soldiers injured in Operation Olive Branch
- 15.02.2018Indonesia charges Daesh-linked group for deadly bombing
- 15.02.2018Lebanese PM rule out Hezbollah alliance in May election
- 15.02.2018US secretary of state meets with Jordan king in Amman
- 14.02.2018Knesset rejects bill recognizing so-called Armenian Genocide
- 14.02.2018No cases of human infection with H5N6 bird flu reported in Iran – official
- 14.02.2018Over 20 undocumented migrants held in Turkey
- 14.02.2018Turkey's president speaks to Saudi counterpart
- 14.02.2018Taliban confirms senior leader killed by US air strike
- 14.02.2018İraqi Turkmen Front officer attacked in Kirkuk
- 13.02.2018Cyclone wreaks havoc in Tonga's capital, parliament flattened, homes wrecked
- 13.02.2018Russians killed in clash with U.S.-led forces in Syria, say associates
- 12.02.2018Israel's Netanyahu says discussing settlement annexation with U.S.
- 11.02.2018Netanyahu speaks to Russia’s Putin about Iran
- 11.02.2018Putin Urges Netanyahu to Avoid Escalation in Syria
- 10.02.201811 Turkish soldiers killed, 11 injured in Afrin - UPDATED
- 10.02.2018Hundreds protesting in Seoul against N. Korea's participation in Olympic
- 10.02.201815 PYD/PKK, Daesh terrorists neutralized in Afrin
- 10.02.2018Hong Kong bus overturns killing 18
- 10.02.201848 Daesh-linked suspects arrested across Turkey
- 10.02.201827 reported dead in bus crash in Indonesia
- 16.03.20172 militants killed in police raid in Bangladesh
- 17.03.2017Air attack kills 58 civilians in Aleppo mosque
- 17.03.2017Syria government urges U.N. chief to avert 'looming dam catastrophe'
- 16.03.20176 killed, 13 injured as building collapses due to gas explosion in northern India
- 16.03.2017US seeking ‘serious’ Mideast talks: Palestinian FM
- 16.03.2017Car bomb attack kills at least 4 in Tikrit, Iraq