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.
ISIS fighters captured the airport and military complex, which includes barracks and training grounds and sprawls across an area close to the Baghdad Mosul highway, when they overran Mosul in June 2014.
Loss of Mosul could spell the end of the Iraqi side of ISIS’s self-styled caliphate, which it declared from the city after sweeping through vast areas of Iraq and Syria.
The campaign involves a 100,000-strong force of Iraqi troops, Kurdish fighters and Shiite militias.
Forces have made rapid advances since the start of the year, aided by new tactics and improved coordination, military officials say.
Iraqi military says troops consolidate gains south of MosulIraqi forces were consolidating their gains south of Mosul on Tuesday ahead of moving into the city’s ISIS-held western half, a military ... Middle East
British museum training for Iraqi experts to save Mosul heritageAs Iraqi forces fight to take back Mosul from the ISIS group, archaeologists trained by the British Museum are preparing for another battle - trying ... Features
2,000 ISIS fighters defending west Mosul: US officialAn estimated 2,000 ISIS fighters are left in west Mosul to defend their bastion against a massive offensive by the Iraqi security forces, a senior US ... Middle East
Mosul battle heats up as Iraqi forces fight ISIS near airportUS-backed Iraqi forces fought ISIS fighters on Monday to clear the way to Mosul's airport, on the second day of a ground offensive on the militants' ... Middle East