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Counter-Islamic State Forces Make Gains In Raqqa, Mosul

Counter-Islamic State Forces Make Gains In Raqqa, Mosul

Iraqi Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool recently said that ISIS now controls less than a quarter of the land it held at its peak in 2014.

The elite forces, known as Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), completely liberated the neighborhood of Aabar in west of Mosul's old city center and raised the Iraqi flags over some of its buildings after days of fierce clashes with the extremist militants, Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Yarallah, from the Joint Operations Command (JOC), said in a statement.

IS still controls the large towns of Hawijah and Tal Afar as well as remote areas along the border with Syria in western Iraq. The United States and other Western countries have assisted with air support, intelligence and equipment, General Rasool said.

The coalition battling IS is made up of tens of thousands of members of the Iraqi security forces, led by the army, and thousands of Shi'ite volunteers, many from militia groups, commonly referred to as the Popular Mobilisation Units (PMU).

Seven alleys in the neighborhood were recaptured, al-Alusi said, adding that his forces killed 15 armed militants and arrested another three; they also destroyed a booby-trapped vehicle through which a suicide bomber tried to target Iraqi troops.

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More than 300 square miles have been cleared since west Mosul operations began mid-February, he said. "And a lot of the reason for that is the coalition airstrikes that have supported our partners as they've taken that territory back". "Their ability and capability became stronger and more developed" since the jihadists shocked Iraqi security and intelligence forces with their lightning offensive in June 2104, says Mr. Hashimi.

"The Iraqi Security Forces continue their advance but it's very, very hard and it's just going to remain so for awhile", Dorrian added. They have been trying since then to dislodge the Sunni Muslim militants from the densely-populated Old City in western Mosul, their last Iraqi stronghold.

"This enemy in Mosul is not going anywhere", he said, later adding, "They're not going to be able to leave to the west; they are cut off. ..."

While progress continues, the colonel said, it's still a slow, tough fight.

"One of the things it's very important to understand is that millions of people have been able to return to their homes because of the rollback of ISIS territorial gains", he said.

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