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Iraq Troops Retake Area in W. Mosul    04/25 06:20

   Iraqi troops on Tuesday drove out Islamic State militants from the largest 
neighborhood in the western half of the city of Mosul, a senior military 
commander said, a major development in the months-long fight to recapture the 
country's second-largest city.

   BAGHDAD (AP) -- Iraqi troops on Tuesday drove out Islamic State militants 
from the largest neighborhood in the western half of the city of Mosul, a 
senior military commander said, a major development in the months-long fight to 
recapture the country's second-largest city.

   U.S.-backed Iraqi forces declared eastern Mosul "fully liberated" in 
January, after officially launching the operation to retake the city in October.

   In February, the troops started a new push to clear Mosul's western side of 
IS militants, but weeks later their push stalled mainly due to stiff resistance 
by the Sunni militant group.

   On Tuesday, special forces Lt. Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi told The Associated 
Press that the sprawling al-Tanek neighborhood was now "fully liberated and 
under full control" of the security forces. Al-Saadi did not provide more 
details.

   To the east of al-Tanek, Iraqi forces have been facing tough resistance from 
IS in Mosul's Old City, an area that stretches along the Tigris River, which 
divides Mosul into its eastern and western half. The Old City's narrow alleys 
and densely populated areas have made it hard for troops to move forward.

   Also Tuesday, the government-sanctioned paramilitary troops, made up mainly 
of Shiite militiamen, launched a new push to retake the town of Hatra to the 
south of Mosul. The force's spokesman, Ahmed al-Asadi, said the operation is 
being conducted from three directions with aerial support from the Iraqi Air 
Force. Al-Asadi did not elaborate.

   Hatra is home to a UNESCO World Heritage site of the same name that was 
destroyed by IS as part of the militant's efforts to demolish archaeological 
sites in and around Mosul. The extremists consider the priceless archaeological 
treasures --- some dating back as far as 3,000 B.C. --- as idolatry but have at 
the same time smuggled and sold many looted artifacts to fund their war.

   Mosul fell to IS in the summer of 2014, along with large swaths of northern 
and western Iraq.


(KA)

 
 
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