Iraqi forces are 1 km from Mosul governorate building

Basnews English

- 10:46

MOSUL Iraqi ground forces backed by air power continued to battle the Islamic State (IS) on Saturday in west Mosul and are gaining significant ground, heading towards the Mosul governorate building.

After retaking Mosul airport, Iraqi Elite forces from the Rapid Response units began to move towards the city centre, however, their advance was slowed as they moved deeper.

"Right now we're heading towards the Mosul governorate building, we're now about one kilometer from the fourth bridge," Lieutenant Colonel Abdulamir al-Mohammadawi told AFP.

"We're heading towards the centre and also the Turkish consulate, which we're about 500 metres from," he said.

As the Iraqi forces are pushing deeper into the city's more densely populated areas, they appear to face further resistance from the IS militants.

"Daesh is using houses full of residents as human shields," Mohammadawi said, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

Tensions between local and foreign IS extremists have emerged with the local militants complaining against the foreign jihadists who are withdrawing from the battle, claiming that the IS leader, Abubakir al-Baghdadi has ordered them to move to Syria.

Iraqi forces, backed by coalition air force, launched a new phase of operations on February 19 to reclaim the western half of Mosul which is yet under IS control. Since the beginning of the operations the Iraqi forces have managed to retake a number of areas including Mosul airport and Ghazlani military camp.