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Iraqi forces make fresh gains in southeast Mosul: Military statement

Reuters , Thursday 12 Jan 2017
Iraq
Members of the Iraqi rapid response forces fire missile toward Islamic State militants during a battle between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants in Somer district of eastern Mosul, Iraq January 11, 2017 (Photo: Reuters)
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Iraqi forces drove back Islamic State militants in southeastern Mosul on Thursday, making gains in an area where advances have been particularly tough, the military said in a statement.

Rapid response units from Iraq's federal police advanced in the Sumer district, which lies on the eastern bank of the Tigris river, and also in neighbouring Sahiroun, the statement reported by state television said.

Forces have pressed forward much more slowly in that area than units in the east and northeast, who have taken control of a number of neighbourhoods in the past week.

The army's elite Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), has spearheaded advances in eastern Mosul.

The U.S.-backed campaign to recapture Mosul, Islamic State's last major stronghold in Iraq, has pushed ahead with renewed vigour since the turn of the year after troops got bogged down inside the city in November and December.

New tactics, including one night raid, better defences against suicide car bomb attacks and improved coordination between the army and security forces, have helped forge momentum, U.S and Iraqi officers say.

The ultra-hardline group's loss of Mosul would probably spell the end for the Iraqi side of its self-styled caliphate, which it declared after sweeping through parts of Iraq and Syria in 2014.

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