Iraqi forces take control of Mosul airport

Katie RamirezFeb 24, 2017

Iraqi police have reportedly stormed the Mosul International airport on Thursday, (23 February) and took control of the runway, an official told the Associated Press news agency.

Meanwhile, the federal police and elite interior ministry units, known as Rapid Response, entered Mosul global airport near Ghazlani base and managed to free more than 50 percent of the airport and the adjacent compound of a sugar plant and its residential buildings, according to the statement.

Iraqi police forces attacked the disused airport, on the southern approach to the city, which they want to use as a base to launch a final onslaught on the west of Iraq's second-largest city.

The strategy calls for pressure on extremists from various directions, simultaneously with the operation of Iraqi forces to recover the western city of Mosul.

However, the possibility that U.S. troops will improve support for anti-government gangs by increasing firepower with artillery, mortars, and aviation is among other options discussed in the plan, which must be approved by President Donald Trump.

Another special forces officer said IS targeted the advancing troops with a suicide auto bomb and dozens of bombs dropped from a drone.

While some 750,000 civilians are estimated to be trapped in Mosul's western sector, only a few dozen could be seen fleeing the city on foot Thursday alongside convoys of Iraqi Humvees.

Earlier this month, Turkey's Hurriyet daily reported that Turkish military chief Hulusi Akar had presented his American counterpart, Joseph Dunford, with two plans for an alleged potential operation to "liberate" Raqqah from Daesh.

"There are many injured still inside", he said.

Late in January, Abadi declared the liberation of the eastern side of Mosul, or the left bank of Tigris, after more than 100 days of fighting against IS militants.

"We've been walking since the morning", said his wife, Badriya, cradling their 1 ½-year-old daughter in her arms.

Mosul, which is now the last IS urban stronghold in the country, fell into the hands of the extremists in the summer of 2014, during a shocking blitz that captured large swaths of northern and western Iraq.

The Iraqi special forces officer overseeing this week's operation said he expected heavier IS resistance once his forces punched inside the city, but he said Iraqi forces wouldn't make the same mistakes they made in the east: quickly punching into dense neighborhoods only to be hit with overnight IS counterattacks.

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