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Iraqi forces recapture eastern Mosul from Islamic State

The entire eastern half of the Islamic State's former stronghold has been re-seized. Iraqi security forces have been fighting to retake the city since October 2016.

Watch video 00:32

Iraqi forces in complete control of eastern Mosul

The head of Iraqi special forces announced Wednesday afternoon that the remaining eastern districts of Mosul controlled by Islamic State (IS) militants have been recaptured by his troops. The city is the last major urban IS stronghold in Iraq.

At a press conference in the nearby town of Bartalla, Staff General Talib al-Sheghati announced "the liberation... of the left bank" of the Tigris River that bisects the city from north to south. 

However, he noted that some work remains to remove the last holdout militants.

The seizure of Mosul's eastern areas comes one day after US military spokesperson Colonel John Dorrian told dpa that the eastern area would likely be recaptured "very soon."

In the phone interview, Dorrian also dismissed media reports that Iraqi units are fatigued.

"The Islamic State has not won a battle against the Iraqi security forces in - it is approaching - a year and a half," he said. "I do not see the enemy exhausting Iraqis, I see the exact opposite."

Watch video 01:41

Iraqi forces reach Tigris in Mosul offensive

An embattled city

Iraqi forces and coalition partners launched their offensive to retake Mosul in October 2016. On December 29, they initiated a second phase involving a three-pronged incursion into the eastern half of the city. Airstrikes also targeted IS fighters' financial resources by destroying oil facilities and cash centers.

Much of the city's population did not or could flee, complicating military logistics for Iraqi troops. The United Nations reports that over the past three months, fighting has displaced around 150,000 individuals. 

The Tigris River divides Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, into an eastern and western half. The western area of the city remains completely under IS control after being captured by the militants in June 2014.

cmb (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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