US-trained Iraq's Counter-Terrorism Services (CTS) advance in Mosul's western Rofaai neighbourhood during the ongoing offensive against the ISIS group on Monday. Photo: AFP / Ahmad al-Rubaye
MOSUL, Iraq - Emboldened Iraqi army troops were able to drive ISIS militants out of Uraibiya neighborhood in northwestern Mosul, reducing the number of districts left under ISIS rule in the city to only seven, said a Rudaw reporter.
Embedded with the advancing Iraqi soldiers, Rudaw’s Nabard Hussein also reported that heavy clashes between the retreating ISIS militants and army soldiers were ongoing in Shifa and Rofaai.
Hussein added the toughest battles were ongoing nearby 17 Tamouz neighborhood with the Rapid Response closing in on it from the southern side of the neighborhood and the Iraqi army from the northern.
He said the advances are in direction of the Old Mosul district with unmanned drones spotted overhead overseeing the army’s advances. Iraqi forces faced strong resistance when they tried to make advances against ISIS militants in Old Mosul, where it is more densely populated and the streets are narrower than the eastern part of the city. As a result, Iraqi armed forces were forced to shift their focus and instead open a new front in northwestern Mosul.
To avoid mounting casualties among civilian in the remaining war-ravaged neighborhood, Iraqi jets have been dropping hundreds of thousands of leaflets over the people advising them to stay indoors and not to use motorcycles or automobiles.
Iraqi armed forces launched a massive assault on ISIS held districts in northwestern Mosul over the weekend.
Overall, just seven neighborhoods are left under ISIS control in the western half of the embattled city of Mosul, accounting for nine percent of the western side.
Mosul is the largest and last major urban area where ISIS still maintain an armed presence.
ISIS took over Mosul in June 2014. The group was cleared out of eastern Mosul in January 2017 and Iraqi and US officials expect final victory in the western side of the city in the coming weeks.
Iraqi armed forces have repeatedly said the ultimate liberation of the city from ISIS will be declared before the start of the holy month of Ramadan on May 26.