Iraqi Forces Raise Country’s Flag Over Western Mosul as Fighting Continues

Iraqi military forces raised the nation’s flag over government buildings in western Mosul on Tuesday before fending off a withering counterattack from Islamic State insurgents being driven from a crucial stronghold.

Still, the government offensive was the latest in a series of recent gains that have increased pressure on the militants, who took the city by storm three years ago.

Iraq’s elite Rapid Response force and the federal police liberated the governor’s building, Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Yar Allah said in a statement. The federal police command told the Iraqi news service that government forces took over the water and sewage department’s offices in western Mosul’s district of Dindan, hoisting Iraqi flags above the facility. The command said the forces also recaptured the police directorate and the courts complex.

Col. John Dorrian, spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition supporting the advance, said he was encouraged by the Iraqi gains.

“Iraqi security forces are moving very rapidly right now,” he told Iraq’s Rudaw news service. “The enemy is not able to stop their advances.”

Iraqi Maj. Gen. Najeem al-Jabbouri said government forces are now in control of both ends of two of the five bridges in Mosul, all “disabled” by coalition airstrikes. The government requested the bombings to discourage militants from crossing over to eastern Mosul, an area liberated in January. Jabbouri estimated fewer than 900 militants remain in Mosul.

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SOURCE: USA Today, John Bacon