Iraqi special forces fighting Islamic State militants in Mosul have seized a new neighbourhood and taken full control of another densely populated area, according to Iraqi field commanders.
Lieutenant Colonel Muhanad al-Tamimi said his men are in full control of the Zohour neighbourhood, more than a week after they entered the district, where troops found a residential complex for IS fighters
He said his men also captured Qadissiyah-2, bringing to 23 the number of neighbourhoods retaken by special forces in the eastern sector since the campaign to recapture the city began on October 17.
Brigadier General Haider Fadhil said his troops had taken over two adjacent two-storey houses in Zohour where IS fighters lived. In the garden, they found life-sized cardboard cutouts for target practice.
The walls inside the houses were adorned with posters of grenade launchers, assault rifles and artillery shells. Flyers bearing the names of the fighters who slept in each room were plastered on doors.
The state-run al-Iraqiyah TV network showed footage taken inside the houses, with black-clad special forces searching them with their rifles at the ready. The footage showed metal bunk beds dressed with colourful blankets.
There has been some discrepancy over the number of neighbourhoods retaken from IS, something Iraqi commanders explain as a possible result of the use of different maps of the city or the small size of some neighbourhoods.
Most of the fighting in Mosul has taken place in the city’s eastern sector, where Iraq’s special forces are making slow progress because of fears over the safety of civilians still inside the city and spirited IS resistance.
The campaign to retake Mosul is being conducted on a multitude of fronts, with forces from the army, federal police and Sunni tribal militias deployed to the north and south of the city. State-sanctioned militias are holding territory to the west of Mosul, but are not expected to enter the mostly Sunni city.
Iraq’s second largest city was captured by IS in 2014 when the militants swept across much of Iraq’s north and west. The city is the largest urban centre in Iraq still held by the militants.