Iraqi forces retook a key town from the Islamic State group on Monday, a crucial objective on the southern front of the offensive to wrest back the city of Mosul. Federal police, army and elite interior ministry forces established full control over Hamam al-Alil, the last town of note on the way to Mosul from the south, AFP reporters said.
It lies on the west bank of the Tigris river, about 15 kilometres southeast of the southern edge of Mosul. Since the past week, Iraqi special forces have made significant gains after they entered Mosul by gaining a foothold on the city’s eastern edges. However, the progress has been slowed down as troops push into more densely populated areas. The Islamic State has put up a stiff resistance by employing booby traps, suicide car bombs and close-quarters fighting along narrow streets. The militant organisation still holds territory to the north, south and west of Mosul.
Iraqi government forces and Kurdish militia backed by a US-led coalition are fighting to drive IS out of those surrounding areas and open additional fronts to attack Mosul itself.