Iraqi troops in southeastern Mosul.
Al-ZUHUR, Mosul-- Iraq's Special Forces fought their way further into the eastern outskirts of Mosul on Tuesday, gaining control of the Al-Zuhur neighborhood, located less than 5 kilometers from the Tigris River which virtually divides the city into two parts.
Chief of the Iraqi anti-terror forces told Rudaw Tuesday that the army is expected to control southern bank of the river "within days".
"As you see, there are still street clashes taking place in Zuhur, but God willing we will overcome these clashes and should be much closer to the Tigris in the coming days," Abdulwahab Saaedi told Rudaw.
Heavily supported by Apache helicopters overhead, the Iraqi army took most of the Zuhur district by Tuesday afternoon, but the affluent Mosul neighborhood was not in full army control before late in the evening, Rudaw correspondent Hividar Ahmed said.
"Almost every empty house here is booby trapped with large holes in the walls between houses which were apparently used by the militants as alternative exit routes," said Ahmed who is traveling with the Iraqi army.
The Iraqi troops have driven out ISIS militants from 23 small and large neighborhoods, mostly in eastern outskirts of the city, but are likely to face stiffer street clashes as the army moves closer to the central parts of Mosul.
Army officials say the operation has so far advanced according to the previous military planning although the relatively slow pace of army advancement in Mosul has drawn some criticism.
Kurdish President Massoud Barzani on Tuesday praised the operation for its "effectiveness" and the level of cooperation between the Iraqi and Peshmerga forces in Nineveh province.
The Kurdish president said at present the most challenging aspect of the war in Mosul was the hidden explosives and the suicide bombers that attack indiscriminately.
"The operation has gone smoothly and according to the military plan that was agreed upon with the central government," Barzani said during an interview with the BBC Persian Service aired on Tuesday.
The Kurdish president also reiterated that the Peshmerga forces would remain in areas that they liberated before October 17, that is when the Mosul operation was launched.
"There is an agreement with the central government that Peshmerga forces in coordination with the Iraqi army provide security for areas in Nineveh province until local people or the (Iraqi) police can do this task.
"But our forces won't withdraw from areas that they liberated before October 17, including areas in Kirkuk, it is not negotiable," Barzani said.