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
- 25.06.2017Iraqi forces free hundreds of civilians in Mosul Old City battles as death toll mounts
- 24.06.2017Iran arrests Islamic State-linked group planning attack
- 24.06.2017Bomber planning to attack Mecca's Grand Mosque blows himself up
- 24.06.2017Saudi Security Forces foil attack on Mecca's grand mosque
- 24.06.2017Arab states issue ultimatum to Qatar: close Jazeera, curb ties with Iran
- 24.06.2017Separate blasts kill 40 in Pakistan: police
- 23.06.2017Iraqi forces battle toward heart of Mosul's Old City
- 23.06.2017Arab nations demand Qatar close Al-Jazeera, cut diplomatic ties to Iran, shutter Turkish base
- 23.06.2017North Korea Conducts Rocket Engine Test
- 23.06.20176 PKK terrorists surrender in SE Turkey
- 22.06.2017Dozens killed in Afghanistan as car bomb hits bank branch
- 22.06.2017Iran's Khamenei ordered missile strikes on Islamic State targets in Syria: Guards
- 22.06.2017Cuban FM: Trump's statements on Cuba do not conflict earlier agreements
- 22.06.2017China to launch four important satellites by 2020
- 22.06.2017First aid ship from Turkey setting sail for Qatar
- 21.06.2017Saudi king deposes crown prince, names son as successor
- 21.06.2017Air strikes pound southwest Syrian city of Deraa
- 20.06.201726 injured in Chinese plane crash
- 20.06.20173 Iran Revolutionary Guards detained in Saudi Arabia
- 20.06.2017Militant leader reportedly killed on Iran-Pakistan border
- 20.06.2017Four foreign inmates break out of Bali jail using tunnel
- 19.06.2017U.S., Russia, Iran draw new red lines in Syria
- 18.06.2017500 Turkish soldiers hospitalized in western Turkey
- 18.06.201717 PKK terrorists killed in N. Iraq, SE Turkey
- 18.06.2017Saudi guards fire on Iranian boat, killing fisherman
- 17.06.2017Russian warplanes kill 2 top IS commanders: defense ministry
- 17.06.2017Syrian army declares 48-hour cease-fire in Daraa city
- 17.06.2017Vanuatu president dies after sudden heart attack
- 17.06.2017At least three injured, seven missing after U.S. Navy destroyer collides with merchant vessel off Japan
- 17.06.2017Afghanistan: 700 pro-Daesh militants killed in 3 months
- 17.06.2017Saudi Arabia, UAE, Bahrain defend blockade on Qatar
- 17.06.2017Three Palestinians shot dead after killing Israeli officer
- 16.06.2017Mattis Made no decisions on troop levels for Afghanistan - Pentagon
- 15.06.2017Iranian Laser targets US forces in Strait of Hormuz
- 15.06.2017Bomb blast near Kabul mosque kills 6, injures 10
- 15.06.2017Deadly explosion rocks Chinese kindergarten and kills at least 7
- 15.06.2017Two pilots of missing Malaysian military aircraft found dead
- 15.06.2017One wounded in missile attack on UAE ship off Yemen coast
- 14.06.2017100,000 evacuated as typhoon merbok hits South China
- 14.06.2017Saudi soldier killed in landmine blast
- 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