Aerial image captured on February 19, 2017 shows a bridge crossing Tigris in the northern Iraq city of Mosul. (Photo by AFP)
Amid battles to liberate the western side of Mosul from Daesh
, Iraqi forces retake control of a third bridge crossing over Tigris River which divides the northern city into two parts.
‘Iron Bridge’ was recaptured from Daesh remnants in western Mosul on Wednesday following an operation enlisting the Federal police and Interior Ministry’s Rapid Response units, Reuters reported, citing a police statement.
The coup marks a significant strategic victory as the bridge connects the eastern part of Mosul, which has been entirely freed of terrorists
’ presence, to the city’s Daesh-held Old City.
The terrorists are now controlling only two other cross-river bridges.
According to Iraqi police sources, government forces are now moving towards Mosul’s Grand Mosque.
“Our troops are making a steady advance towards the Grand Mosque and we are now less than 800 meters from” the building, Reuters quoted a police spokesman as saying.
Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January and launched the battle in the west on February 19.
Daesh captured Mosul in 2014 and named it as its self-proclaimed headquarters. The city is the last urban stronghold under Daesh control alongside the northern city of Raqqah in neighboring Syria.
Speaking on Tuesday, Prime Minster Haider al-Abadi said that the military
operation aimed at liberating western Mosul was “in its last stage.”
Abadi also reiterated his vow that the remaining terrorists who surrender would be given a fair trial, but that those who continue to fight against Iraqi forces will “definitely be killed.”
In the latest figures released Wednesday, the International Organization for Migration said nearly 100,000 Iraqis have fled western Mosul amid Iraqi battles against Daesh.
Between February 25 and March 15, more than 97,000 people have been displaced from west Mosul, the IOM said on its official Twitter account.