Iraqi Troops Advance in Fight for Mosul – February 23, 2017

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malaymail-online

The battle for Mosul: What we know

February 23, 2017

BAGHDAD, Feb 23 — Iraqi forces today stormed Mosul airport and looked poised to fully retake it from the Islamic State group, the latest landmark in a four-month-old offensive to recapture the city. The massive operation, Iraq’s largest in years, has involved tens of thousands of security personnel and could yet last several more weeks or months. Here are some facts:

Where are the Iraqi forces?

Elite forces from the interior ministry’s Rapid Response units stormed Mosul airport after a lightning push through some of the open areas south of the city. They were followed by forces from the federal police. They were met with limited resistance from the jihadists but have yet to fully secure all parts of the sprawling airport compound. Elite forces from the Counter-Terrorism Service simultaneously attacked further to the west and advanced towards the Ghazlani military base, where some of them were stationed before IS seized the city in 2014. Meanwhile, Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) paramilitaries continued to clear desert areas further west and to tighten the noose around Tal Afar, a large town still under IS control.

They have cut the road between Mosul and Tal Afar, as well as IS’s supply lines to Syria. Iraqi forces are receiving substantial air support from the US-led coalition as well as from Iraqi army aviation helicopters. US coalition advisers were seen on the front lines Thursday as Iraqi forces advanced on the airport.

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SOURCE = MalayMail

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International Business Times

Iraqi forces retake Mosul airport from Isis

February 23, 2017

Iraqi military forces have regained control of Mosul airport, as part of their months-long operation to oust Isis from the country’s second largest city. The airport, which was largely destroyed by Isis, is now under Iraqi Federal Police control, Col. Abdel Amir Mohamed, commander of the Rapid Response Unit of the Federal Police told CNN. Isis militants have responded by continuing to fire mortar rounds at the airport from areas under their control and have also entered a nearby military base, Reuters reported.

Iraqi forces launched their campaign to wrest back control of the west of the city on Sunday (19 February), after announcing in January that they had regained control of its eastern half. On Thursday, armoured units launched their attack on the airport after being backed by airstrikes from the US-led coalition. A lieutenant was killed in the advance in a roadside bomb attack, the BBC reported.

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SOURCE = International Business Times

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hindustantimes

Rockets, gunfire and a selfie: Iraqi troops enter Mosul airport for first time since 2014

February 23, 2017

There was still morning mist in the air when Iraq’s Rapid Response units began their push to take Mosul airport from the Islamic State group on Thursday. On a hilltop outside the village of Al-Buseif, the soldiers watched as helicopters fired rockets towards the airport and the adjacent sugar factory, held by the jihadist group since 2014. “I love this sound,” said First Lieutenant Ahmed, as cannon fire snapped from the gunships, followed by roaring rocket fire. A small crew of American soldiers worked to position mortars by their armoured vehicle as an air strike on Mosul in the distance sent grey smoke up in the sky. An armoured ambulance belonging to the federal police blasted patriotic music, but the tunes were silenced after the troops noticed a suspected IS drone.

The jihadist group has regularly targeted Iraqi troops with grenades and shells dropped from drones, and the buzz of the pilotless aircraft now immediately puts soldiers on guard. Several opened fire in the direction of the drone, but had no luck hitting it. Gradually, they moved down the hilltop, some in armoured cars and others following on foot in the tracks of the vehicles ahead to avoid explosives embedded in the dirt, another favoured IS tactic. At the bottom of the hill was Khirbeh, the last village between Al-Buseif and the airport.

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SOURCE = Hindustan Times

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The Independent

Iraqi forces storm Mosul airport and seize it from Isis

February 23, 2017

Iraqi security forces closing in on the Isis-held western half of Mosul have launched a major offensive on the city’s airport and fought their way into a nearby military base. Federal police and an elite interior ministry unit known as Rapid Response stormed the airport and engaged in gun battles with Isis fighters who used suicide car bombs to try to stem the advance. Around four hours after the start of the offensive, state television reported that the airport had been captured. “The Rapid Response Forces and federal police are fully in control of the airport of Mosul,” state television said in a flash on its screen.

Isis fighters deployed bomb-carrying drones to attack the Iraqi Counter Terrorism Forces advancing from the southwestern side of the city. “We are attacking Daesh (Isis) from multiple fronts to distract them and prevent them from regrouping. it’s the best way to knock them down quickly,” said federal police captain Amir Abdul Kareem, whose units are fighting near Ghozlani military base. After ousting the militant group from eastern Mosul last month, Iraqi forces have sought to capture the airport to use it as a launchpad for an onslaught into the west of the city.

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SOURCE = The Independent

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nine-news-australia

Iraqi forces enter Mosul airport after fierce battle with Islamic State

February 23, 2017

Iraqi forces fought their way Thursday into a sprawling military base outside of Mosul and onto the grounds of the city’s airport, taking control of the runway amid fierce exchanges of fire with Islamic State militants. The two-pronged advance is part of a major assault that started earlier this week to drive the Islamic State group from the western half of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city. The Iraqi federal police units, backed by regular army forces, entered the airport on Thursday morning, according to two police officials who said heavy clashes were underway hours later with IS militants hunkered down inside several airport buildings.

The officials said troops from the U.S.-led coalition were with the advancing forces, though they didn’t specify the nationalities of the foreign forces. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to reporters. Private broadcaster Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen aired live footage from the Mosul airport perimeter, showing a military helicopter buzzing overheard and firing at IS positions as gunfire rattled. Separately, Iraqi special forces entered the Ghazlani military base next to the airport on the southern edge of the city, the spokesman of the Joint Military Operation Command, Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool told the AP. Rasool said heavy clashes were underway inside the base. He did not provide more details.

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Reuters

Iraqi forces storm Mosul airport, military base

February 23, 2017

U.S.-backed Iraqi security forces captured Mosul airport from Islamic State on Thursday, advancing on multiple fronts towards the jihadists’ last major stronghold in the western half of the city. The troops have gained ground rapidly in outlying areas south of the city, Iraq’s second largest, since launching a new phase of a four-month offensive to terminate Islamic State’s territorial holdings in the country. Elite counter terrorism forces joined the battle on Thursday in the southwest, entering the Ghozlani army base and pushing towards the districts of Tal al-Rayyan and al-Mamoun. Federal police and an elite interior ministry unit known as Rapid Response drove Humvees flying Iraqi flags into the perimeter of the airport, and state television later said they had taken full control of the heavily damaged facility. Islamic State fought back with suicide car bombs, drones carrying grenades and mortars, Reuters correspondents in the area said. The burnt corpses of two militants and the motorcycle from which they had fired at Iraqi forces were lying under a tree, apparently hit by an air strike.

“Daesh (Islamic State) resistance is not inconsiderable but they are trying to save their strength for inside the city,” First Lieutenant Ahmed al-Ghalabi of the Rapid Response force said outside the airport’s main entrance. Iraqi forces hope to repair the airport and use it as a base from which to drive the militants from Mosul’s western districts where around 750,000 people are believed to be trapped. The United Nations has warned up to 400,000 civilians could be displaced by the offensive and that residents are already suffering from food and fuel shortages. A Reuters correspondent saw more than 100 civilians, mostly women and children, fleeing towards Iraqi security forces from the district of al-Mamoun. Several were wounded and at least one, wrapped in a blanket and carried on the back of a donkey, appeared to be dead, casualties of Islamic State mortars and roadside bombs.

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SOURCE = Reuters

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Al Arabiya News

Iraqi security forces storm Mosul airport, military base

February 23, 2017

US-backed Iraqi security forces closing in on the ISIS-held western half of Mosul stormed the city’s airport and a nearby military base on Thursday, state television said.
Counter-terrorism service (CTS) troops and elite interior ministry units known as Rapid Response descended on the airport early on Thursday and the nearby Ghozlani military complex, CTS spokesman Sabah al-Numan told state TV. “Our forces started a major operation early this morning to storm the airport of Mosul and the Ghozlani base to dislodge Daesh (ISIS) terrorists. We can confirm that the Mosul airport militarily has fallen and it’s a matter of short time to fully control it,” Numan said. After ousting the militant group from eastern Mosul last month, Iraqi forces have sought to capture the airport and use it as a launchpad for an onslaught into the west of Iraq’s second-largest city.

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SOURCE = Al Arabiya News

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