Iraqi armed forces close in on western Mosul neighborhoods and Mosul airport. Photo: Rudaw video
Iraqi forces control just over 50 percent of Mosul airport
Iraq’s Joint Command stated that the Iraqi Security Forces (ISF) have captured about 50 percent of the strategic Mosul airport, and 85 percent of the Ghazlani military base next door; earlier in the day, a Rudaw reporter and an Iraqi commander said that the airport was fully under the control of the Iraqi forces.
Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah, the commander of the Nineveh operations, said in a statement that the Federal Police and the elite Rapid Response ”were able to liberate more than 50 percent of the [Mosul] airport, and cleaned the buildings of the airport,” adding that they also cleaned a sugar factory opposite of the airport, and a residential complex.
In that front, the ISF destroyed five car bombs and one motorcycle belonging to ISIS militants, the statement said.
The elite Counter Terrorism Service (ICTS), who on Thursday joined the fresh offensive that began five days before, were able to liberate 85 percent of the Ghazlani military base, and continues to advance, Yalaralla said.
The ICTS have now reached the edges of the southern district of al-Maa’mun after they liberated Tal Rayan village, and the Residential Complex, destroying five ISIS car bombs and two motorcycles.
The Iraqi army and the mainly Shiite Hashd al-Shaabi, represented by the Abbas force, jointly launched attacks towards four positions and were able to liberate the Tal Raman village, destroying 10 car bombs, the statement briefed.
Earlier in the day, Brig. Gen. Bahnam Mohammad al-Kazimi, a commander of the elite Rapid Response, stated in a media release that the ISF were fully in control of the airport.
Iraqi forces under ISIS artillery in Mosul airport, 4 killed
Four Iraqi soldiers from the elite Counter Terrorism Service (ICTS) were killed, and another three injured in an ISIS Katyusha rocket attack on the Mosul airport after the extremist group lost control over the strategic airport earlier today, a security official said.
Brig. Gen. Bahnam Mohammad al-Kazimi, a commander of the elite Rapid Response, whose forces alongside the ICTS and the federal police launched a predawn attack on the airport and the Ghazlani military base next door, stated in press release that the injured initially were taken to a makeshift hospital in Mosul, and then transferred by the military to a hospital in the capital Baghdad.
He added that they are now in “full control” of the airport but that it has not been cleared yet of the explosives or possible ISIS militants who may be in hiding.
The level of the destruction at the airport “has reached 90 per cent after destroying the buildings by ISIS or airstrikes carried out by the international coalition,” Brig. Gen. Abdulaziz al-Musawi, another commander of the Rapid Response said earlier in the day.
Musawi also said that they have controlled the sugar factory located opposite of the Mosul airport.
Mosul airport under Iraqi control
Mosul airport is now under control of the Iraqi Federal Police, Counter-Terror Service, and the Rapid Response Division, Rudaw’s correspondent on the ground reported.
Iraqi forces close in on southern-most neighbourhoods of west Mosul
Iraqi forces have entered Ghazlani base, taking control of about half the base and seizing many ISIS weapons, Rudaw's Ranja Jamal reported from the frontline. Based on information he has received, half of the airport is also now under Iraqi control.
Iraqi Counter-Terror forces (ICTS) have entered Tal Rayan village, the southern most reaches of west Mosul. The ICTS are also closing in on Maamun and Tayaran neighbourhoods of west Mosul.
Coalition warplanes continue to shell ISIS positions.
Iraqi Federal Police control Mosul runway
The Federal Police have taken control of the runway of Mosul airport, police officials report. AP reported that the airports buildings are now under fire from Iraqi forces, citing police sources.
Iraqi forces on edge of airport, which has ‘militarily’ fallen
Iraqi forces have reached the edge of Mosul airport, the BBC’s Quentin Sommerville, embedded with the troops, reported.
The spokesperson for the Iraqi Counter-Terror Services (ICTS), Sabah al-Numan announced on Iraqi state TV that the airport has fallen militarily.
“Our forces started a major operation early this morning to storm the airport of Mosul and the Ghazlani base to dislodge Daesh terrorists. We can confirm that the Mosul airport militarily has fallen and it’s a matter of short time to fully control it,” he said.
Heavy clashes are ongoing
Heavy clashes are ongoing between advancing Iraqi Counter-Terrorism forces and ISIS militants in Ghazlani airbase, Rudaw’s correspondent on the ground Ranja Jamal reported.
ISIS is responding to the Iraqi forces’ advances with mortar shells.
Iraqi forces have launched an operation to oust ISIS from Mosul airport and Ghazlani airbase
“Our forces are advancing to control Ghazlani airbase and Mosul airport,” said Maj. Gen. Najim al-Jabouri. “ISIS militants are retreating to the northwestern neighborhoods of Mosul.”
“Our forces will prevail and liberate the Mosul airport as soon as possible,” Jabouri added. “Just like Qayyara, we will take advantage of the Mosul airport to attack ISIS.”
After retaking Qayyara airbase from ISIS, it is now a key base for Iraqi and coalition forces. US forces launch rockets at ISIS positions in Mosul from Qayyara base.
Shakir Jawdat commander of the Iraqi Federal Police said his forces are leading the offensive on the ground, receiving assistance from other branches of the Iraqi security forces. “Warplanes and artillery units are assisting the Iraqi Federal Force in closing in on the airport.”
Ghazlani base and Mosul airport are located on the southern edge of western Mosul. Retaking these two key sites is the goal of the first phase of the military offensive for the western half of the city, launched on February 19.
When ISIS overran the city two and a half years ago, the Iraqi army left behind a significant amount of weapons at Ghazlani base when their forces dissolved in the face of the militant group.
A Rudaw reporter is embedded with the Iraqi forces on the ground south of Mosul.