Iraqi forces capture Mosul airport

By Andrew V. Pestano  |  Feb. 23, 2017 at 7:07 AM
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Feb. 23 (UPI) -- Iraqi security forces on Thursday captured the Mosul International Airport in their battle against the Islamic State to seize the city from the faltering militant Islamic group.

The military operation involving the Iraqi Federal Police, Counter-Terror Service and the Rapid Response Division took four hours, BBC News, which is embedded with Iraqi troops, reported.

The Islamic State is carrying out mortar strikes against Iraqi forces in the airport, Rudaw reported. Iraqi forces are within mortar range and there are more civilians present, making the battle more complicated, Sommerville said.

The airport's runway is ruined, the BBC said.

Iraqi forces are in the process of capturing its second main target following the airport: the al-Ghazlani military base. Rudaw said Iraqi forces have taken control of about half of the base and seized some Islamic State weapons.

The Iraqi Counter-Terror Service, or ICTS, entered and are in the process of caputring the Tal Rayan village, as well as the Maamun and Tayaran neighborhoods of west Mosul. After the collection of Iraqi forces reach Mosul city proper, the ICTS will take over the more dangerous, street-by-street battle for Mosul.

The United Nations estimates from 650,000 to 750,000 civilians are in Mosul amid a humanitarian crisis in which shortages of food, water and fuel are widespread.

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