Iraqi special forces advance in eastern Mosul

Troops pushed deeper into the Shurta and Andalus neighborhoods as ISIS continues to resist surrender

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Iraqi special forces battled ISIS militants on Monday in two key neighborhoods in the eastern half of Mosul, a senior commander said, advancing deeper after fully routing ISIS from the sprawling complex of the Mosul University, a major step in the massive operation to retake the city.

According to Gen. Abdel Ghani al-Asadi, the head of Iraq’s elite counterterrorism forces, the troops pushed deeper into the Shurta and Andalus neighborhoods. The two are among the last remaining sectors between government-held territory in eastern Mosul and the Tigris River, which divides the city.

In Andalus, bulldozers pushed aside road blocks ahead of a long convoy of black Humvees. Residents said the ISIS fighters had fled, just an hour before the assault began. Al-Aridi said the retreat showed the recent string of territorial victories had broken the will of the militants.

“The pace is medium, we’re moving slowly because our forces are worried about bombs,” he said.

ISIS sent six suicide car bombers to target the advancing Iraqi forces, but unlike in the first weeks of the Mosul operation, most of the cars used on Monday were not heavily armored and were disabled with tank fire.

One suicide bomber managed to drive his explosives-laden car through a roadblock and hit an Iraqi convoy. The blast shattered windows for blocks around, carpeting a quiet residential street with shrapnel.

At least one Humvee was torn apart by the attack and four soldiers were slightly wounded, according to an Iraqi officer overseeing the operation who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to reporters.

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