- Title: Iraq special forces chief says mission accomplished in east Mosul
- Date: 18th January 2017
- Summary: BARTELLA, IRAQ (JANUARY 18, 2017) (REUTERS) ****WARNING CONTAINS FLASH PHOTOGRAPHY*** IRAQI SOLDIERS ON TOP OF MILITARY VEHICLES CHEERING IRAQ SOLDIERS HOLDING IRAQ NATIONAL FLAG IRAQ NATIONAL FLAG IRAQI COMMANDERS DURING A STATEMENT TO JOURNALISTS (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) IRAQ COUNTERTERRORISM SERVICE (CTS) COMMANDER, LIEUTENANT-GENERAL TALIB SHAGHATI, SAYING: ''The heroes of the counterterrorism force have managed in three months and through heroic and brave operations to liberate the whole of the eastern side in coordination and cooperation with the other security forces.'' SOLDIERS HOLDING UP IRAQI FLAG SHAGATI LISTENING TO QUESTION BY JOURNALIST (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) IRAQ COUNTERTERRORISM SERVICE (CTS) COMMANDER, LIEUTENANT-GENERAL TALIB SHAGHATI, SAYING: ''In the last few days, our forces' movements became quicker and clearing of districts became faster, the reason is that when they were defeated, they retreated. I think the western side will be easier to liberate from the eastern side.'' MOSUL, IRAQ (JANUARY 18, 2017) (REUTERS) BRIDGE AND HIGHWAY IN AL ZERAA DISTRICT MORE OF RECAPTURED AREA VIEW OF MOSQUE AND RESIDENTIAL AREA THAT HAVE RECENTLY BEEN RETAKEN MOSUL GRAND MOSQUE WHICH HAS RECENTLY BEEN RETAKEN COMMANDER WALKING FORCES WALKING NEAR MOSQUE IRAQI FORCES IN THE STREET RESIDENTS CHEERING SOLDIER CARRYING BABY (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) UNIDENTIFIED RESIDENT SAYING: ''It was unbelievable suffering, it was huge suffering, we are so glad that it is over now.'' COMMANDER SITTING WITH LOCALS INCLUDING ELDERLY WOMAN PEOPLE IN THE STREET PEOPLE POSING WITH IRAQI FORCES FORCES REMOVING ISLAMIC STATE FROM STREET ISLAMIC STATE SIGN MORE OF FORCES SURVEYING NEWLY RETAKEN AREA RESIDENTS LEAVING NEWLY RETAKEN AREA RESIDENTS WALKING WITH BELONGINGS IRAQI MILITARY VEHICLES
- Embargoed: 1st February 2017 14:13
- Keywords: Iraq Mosul Islamic State recaptured Talib Shagati
- Location: BARTELLA & MOSUL, IRAQ
- City: BARTELLA & MOSUL, IRAQ
- Country: Iraq
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace,Military Conflicts
- Reuters ID: LVA0015ZLZM87
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Elite Iraqi forces have driven Islamic State fighters from all districts of eastern Mosul they were tasked with recapturing, their commanding officer said on Wednesday (January 18), bringing almost all of the city's eastern half under government control.
Lieutenant-General Talib Shaghati said the Counter Terrorism Services (CTS), who have spearheaded the three-month-old offensive against Islamic State in the northern Iraqi city, had taken control of the eastern bank of the Tigris river.
Regular army troops were still fighting the ultra-hardline militants in northeast Mosul, however, according to a military statement.
''The heroes of the counterterrorism force have managed in three months and through heroic and brave operations to liberate the whole of the eastern side in coordination and cooperation with the other security forces,'' Shaghati told reporters.
He said that capturing the western half of the city, which the jihadists still fully control, would be an easier task.
''In the last few days our forces' movements became quicker and clearing of districts became faster, the reason is that when they were defeated, they retreated. I think the western side will be easier to liberate from the eastern side,'' he said.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Wednesday said victory was near.
Officers have previously said that the more densely populated west bank could pose additional military challenges.
Bridges across the Tigris river, which bisects Mosul from north to south, have been hit by U.S.-led air strikes intended to impede Islamic State reinforcements joining the fighting in the eastern neighbourhoods, and more recently by the militants trying to block a future westward advance by the military.
If the U.S.-backed campaign is successful it will likely spell the end of the Iraqi side of the ultra-hardline group's self-styled caliphate, which also extends deep into neighbouring Syria.
The army, special forces and elite police units have operated in tandem to capture different areas of eastern Mosul. The army is mostly deployed in the north, the CTS in the east, and the federal police in the south.
Army units advanced into the northeastern neighbourhoods of Qadiya 2 and al-Arabi, the military statement said.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said late on Tuesday (January 17) that Islamic State had been severely weakened in the Mosul campaign, and that the military had begun "moving" against it in western Mosul, without elaborating.
Residents reached by phone said air strikes against Islamic State deep inside western Mosul had increased in recent days.
More than a dozen missile strikes in the Yarmouk district targeted weapons depots and workshops the militants used to make explosives and destroyed two car bombs stored there, one resident said.
Some raids had killed or wounded civilians, including in the Mosul al-Jadida neighbourhood and an industrial zone, they said.
Reuters could not independently verify the witness accounts.
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