Iraqi police take over IS “commando school” in western Mosul, evacuate more civilians

Iraqi Federal Police forces made more gains against Islamic State militants in western Mosul on Tuesday, taking over a commando training facility run by the extremist group.

The force’s chief. Lt. Gen. Shaker Jawdat, said in statements that his troops took over the so-called “commandos school” in Zanjili, adding that they also continued to open safe exits for thousands of civilians stranded in the battlefield.

Police forces have been bombarding Zanjili with heavy artillery and Grad rockets to facilitate advances by ground troops, said Jawdat.

Earlier on Tuesday, a security source was quoted by Shafaaq News website saying that the army’s elite Counter-Terrorism Service evacuated the civilians from Zanjili, one of a last three districts adjacent to IS’s last bastion in western Mosul: the Old City.

Iraqi government troops regained control over eastern Mosul in January after three months of fighting. Operations for the western side of the city launched in mid February, and Iraqi generals say a few hundreds of IS fighters remain in the Old City as a last refuge.

The densely populated and narrowly structured Old City was the place where IS supreme leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the establishment of the group’s rule in Iraq in 2014.