Iraqi forces recapture ancient Nimrud area
Government soldiers involved in the large-scale offensive against the militant group seized control of Nimrud on Sunday, a top military officer said.
"Units of the 9th Armoured Division completely liberate the Nimrud (area) and raise the Iraqi flag over the buildings," Iraq's Joint Operations Command said in a statement quoting a top military officer.
It did not specifically mention the Nimrud archaeological site, which is located a little more than a kilometre (less than a mile) west of the village that bears its name.
Nimrud was the one of the great centres of the ancient Middle East. Founded in the 13th century BC, it became the capital of the Assyrian empire, whose rulers built vast palaces and monuments that have drawn archaeologists for more than 150 years.
In April last year, IS posted video on the internet of its fighters smashing monuments before planting explosives around the site and blowing it up.
The developments mark the latest in a string of victories against IS since Iraqi forces launched a massive operation to retake the country's second city from the militant group.
Iraq's counter-terrorism Special Forces have pushed the militants back from several Mosul neighbourhoods since October 17, despite facing fierce resistance from the militants.
But there are still weeks if not months of fighting ahead in the battle to recapture the last IS-held Iraqi city, and aid workers have warned that displacement may spike as Iraqi troops push deeper into Mosul.
Meanwhile Mosul's civilians, some of them carrying white flags, walked toward its outskirts, gathering near an Iraqi military truck that would take them out of the city to safety.
More than 49,000 people have been displaced since the Mosul operation began, the International Organisation for Migration said on Saturday.
Aid workers have said that a million or more people could be displaced by the battle for Mosul, meaning that the worst may still be ahead.
IS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces backed by US-led airstrikes have since regained significant ground from the militants.