File photo of Iraqi armed forces in a liberated neighborhood of eastern Mosul
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region - Airstrikes by the US-led coalition killed at least 70 ISIS militants Friday morning on the northern part of Mosul a day after the Iraqi military launched the second phase of its offensive to retake the city from the radical group.
Maj. Gen. Najim al-Jabouri commander of the Mosul Liberation Operation told Rudaw that the army has been advancing on the Hadba neighborhood in northern Mosul and "is trying to retake the Mosul-Tel Skuf road."
Jabouri added that the "Iraqi counter terrorism forces together with the ninth division have been trying to link up the southern and eastern neighborhoods to make a buffer wall preventing ISIS car bombs from reaching the liberated neighborhoods."
He explained that tough fighting is happening at al-Quds2 "after al-Quds1 was liberated yesterday."
The Iraqi commander reiterated that their forces will reach the Tigris river as soon as possible as only "five to six more neighborhoods are left to be liberated."
He also voiced concern over the worsening conditions of the civilian in the neighborhoods locked in intense clashes.
"We are doing our best to protect civilians and trying to carry them away from the war-torn neighborhoods," he claimed.
The operation to liberate Mosul was launched more than two months and the army has since retaken 40 neighborhoods, it claims.
On the first day of the second phase, Iraqi forces advanced on three fronts and liberated several neighborhoods, the military detailed in a statement published Thursday evening.
To the north of the city, Iraqi security forces liberated the villages of Tawilah and al-Sada, and on the southeastern front, Counter-Terror forces took al-Quds1 neighborhood.
On the southern front, the statement reads, the army pushed forward in the al-Salam, Intisar and al-Shaimaa neighborhoods.
The military also announced that over 150 ISIS militants had been killed throughout the day, including a commander for the northern coast of the left bank, Abu Hazaifa, who was killed in an airstrike.