An Iraqi Special Forces soldier stands on top of a vehicle in a desert south of Mosul, Iraq (February 24, 2017)
VON PRESS Middle East: The Iraqi forces recaptured a military base and a village southwest of Mosul and entered the residential neighborhood, Sami al-Aridhi, a lieutenant general in the Counter-Terrorism Service, said on Friday.
The latest gains came a day after Iraqi ground troops, backed by the air force, managed to regain full control of the Mosul airport following heavy clashes with Daesh terrorists, who had planted mines and booby traps throughout the disused complex.
The Popular Mobilization Forces, called Hashd al-Sha'abi in Arabic, also helped secure the main roads west of Mosul, largely cutting the Iraqi city off Daesh bastion in neighboring Syria.
Iraqi federal police and elite Rapid Response units of the Interior Ministry are now engaged in clean-up operations inside the airport, which will serve as an army airbase in the area in the operations to liberate Mosul's western half.
On a separate front, Iraqi forces with the Counter Terrorism Services (CTS) on Friday recaptured the Ghozlani military base, a gain which facilitated their push towards the southwestern Mosul districts of Tal al-Rumman and al-Mamoun, Reuters quoted a military spokesman as saying on Friday.
"Our forces are fighting Daesh terrorists in Tal al-Rumman and al-Mamoun. We will eliminate them soon and take control over the two districts," said CTS spokesman Sabah al-Numan.
Reports say the terrorists operating in the area have resorted to bomb attacks and drone operations to slow down the advances of CTS forces.
"There is a resistance there. The drones are particularly annoying today," said Major General Sami al-Aridi, a senior CTS commander.
The military operations west of Mosul come after Iraqi forces managed to drive Daesh out of the eastern sector of the city, which is divided by Tigris River.
The offensive for western Mosul is estimated to be more difficult that the battle in city's eastern sector given the old neighborhoods and narrow streets in the current operation zone.
A displaced Iraqi woman, who fled a village controlled by Islamic State militants, stands with her child inside her tent at the refugee camp in Hammam Ali, south of Mosul, Iraq (February 24, 2017)
Meanwhile, there are also concerns over the situation of some 750,000 civilians trapped in Mosul's western districts.
International aid organizations have warned against the mass exodus of hundreds of thousands of civilians from Mosul in the wake of the final stage of the battle to recapture the city from Daesh terrorists.
Makeshift camps are being built up in nine cities near Mosul, and tents are being pitched in existing camps to accommodate up to 400,000 internally displaced people.
Daesh usually uses civilians in the areas under its control as human shields as a strategy to prevent the army forces from advancing. The terrorists also step up their acts of terror groups across the country whenever they come under pressure on the Mosul battlefield.
In another development on Friday, Daesh terrorists carried out an assault a border security checkpoint near Jordan on Friday, killing at least 15 guards.