Iraqi forces gain ground against IS in Mosul

Mosul: Iraqi security forces continued their clashes against the Islamic State (IS) militants and seized more ground in and near the city of Mosul, the Iraqi military said.

In eastern Mosul, the commandos of the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) fought heavy clashes with the IS militants and managed to completely clear the districts of al-Qahira, Masarif and Amin, a statement by the Iraqi Joint Operations Command (JOC) said.

The number of districts that have been completely freed by the CTS commandos reached so far 23, Xinhua news agency cited the statement.

The troops inside Mosul have met stubborn resistance from the extremist militants, who are fighting in small groups and moving quickly throughout the districts in the eastern side of the city.

In southeast of Mosul, the Iraqi army freed the villages of al-Gaser and al-Egiedat, after defeating the terrorist militants who fled their positions, the statement added.

Also in the day, the predominantly Shiite Hashd Shaabi units freed the villages al-Salam, Tal Mfeilka and al-Turkomaniya near the IS-held town of Tal Afar, some 70 km west of Mosul.

On Tuesday morning, the paramilitary units began their advance to encircle the town of Tal Afar, preparing for the next stage to free it from the IS militants.

The units' presence in the whole area in west of Mosul would also enable them to secure the border areas between Iraq and neighboring Syria and would cut off the IS supply routes between Mosul and the city of Raqqa, the capital of IS self-declared caliphate.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on October 17 announced a major offensive to retake Mosul, which has been under the IS control since Iraqi forces abandoned their weapons and fled in June 2014, enabling IS militants to take control of parts of Iraq