Iraqi forces reach banks of the Tigris in Mosul

Iraqi forces reach banks of the Tigris in Mosul
2 min read
08 January, 2017
Iraqi forces have made further gains against IS in the Battle of Mosul, reaching the east bank of the Tigris River which dissects the Iraqi city in two.
The US-backed forces have made progress against IS in Iraq [Anadolu]

US-backed Iraqi special forces have reached the eastern bank of the River Tigris in Mosul on Sunday for the first time during an operation to drive Islamic State militants out of the city, a spokesman said.

Iraq's elite counter-terrorism service (CTS) commandos fought their way to a bridge over the river which has been damaged in fighting, spokesman for the unit Sabah al-Numan told Reuters.

Pro-government forces and Kurdish fighters have pushed IS back to its stronghold in Mosul in a series of battles over a period of more than two years.

On 17 October, Iraqi forces launched a massive operation to recapture Mosul from the group, and from there push IS out of its last territories Iraq.

Iraqi forces punched a hole into Mosul from the east, retook a series of neighbourhoods during the early days of the battle. Since then, progress has been more slow due to dogged resistance from IS.

Having reached the banks of the Tigris River Iraqi forces now effectively control half of Mosul, but analysts say it will be tough going capturing the western section of the city where IS fighters will be well intrenched.

Although the western side is smaller it is also more denselyt packed.

Iraqi forces have also launched an operation to recapture IS-held towns near the Syrian border.

Along with Mosul and the northern town of Tal Afar these are among the last populated areas under the jihadi group's control.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in late December that three months were needed to eliminate IS in the country.

But even if the militants no longer openly hold territory, they can still strike at Iraqi civilians and security forces with bombings and hit-and-run attacks.

Agencies contributed to this story.