UPDATED: Iraqi forces kill IS area commander, retake another area in western Mosul
Iraqi government forces killed a senior Islamic State commander and recaptured another area in western Mosul as they continue incursions in districts overlooking the IS-held Old City from the northwest.
The Nineveh operations command said the army’s elite Counter-Terrorism Service forces took over al-Maamel (laboratories/factories) area on Wednesday, and raised Iraqi flags at the area. It also said forces killed Abu Ayoub al-Shami, Islamic State’s military commander for the Islah al-Zeraie district, along with three of his aides.
The developments come as Iraqi forces opened last week a new front targeting the strategic, IS-held Old City from the northwestern direction, having struggled for weeks to invade the densely populated and narrowly structured area from its southern entrances.
Iraqi commanders have reported dozens of deaths among Islamic State militants and the recapture of large parts of districts on the targets list.
On Monday, a spokesperson of the Interior Ministry said ministry forces had killed 3320 IS members since the offensive to retake western Mosul was launched in February. Iraqi forces recaptured eastern Mosul in January after three months of fighting.
Iraqi commanders say they currently control at least 70 percent of territory in the western side of Mosul. Some were quoted expecting the city to be fully under security forces’ control before the end of May. Retaking Mosul will be the strongest blow to the Islamic State’s proclaimed “caliphate” which its supreme leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared from the Old City’s Grand Mosque in 2014.