By Ahmed Qassem and Ibrahim Saleh
NINEVEH,(AA): Iraqi forces on Tuesday captured a major district of Daesh-held Mosul amid an ongoing army offensive aimed at ousting the terrorist group from the northern city.
“Iraqi forces have taken Mosul’s southeastern Al-Hay al-Senai district following fierce clashes with Daesh militants,” Khaled al-Saadouni, an officer in Iraq’s anti-terrorism agency, said.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, al-Saadouni added that Iraqi anti-terrorism forces had attacked the district from three directions.
According to the officer, 21 Daesh militants were killed in the ensuing clashes with Iraqi forces.
“Our forces also captured two Daesh militants, destroyed five Daesh vehicles and seized a weapons cache from the terrorist group,” he asserted.
He added that one Iraqi soldier had been killed in the melee while seven others had been injured.
Also on Tuesday, Iraq’s police-affiliated rapid-response division captured Mosul’s southeastern Al-Mithaq district, Iraqi Army Colonel Mustafa al-Naderi told Anadolu Agency.
Al-Mithaq is regarded as one of Daesh’s last major strongholds in Mosul.
According to al-Naderi, anti-terrorism forces also managed to capture the Maaridh area, a commercial district located east of the city.
In a related development the same day, nine Daesh militants were killed in an airstrike carried out by U.S.-led coalition warplanes in eastern Mosul.
“They were killed when an unmanned aerial drone struck a house that the militants were using as a headquarters,” Saleh al-Ezi, an Iraqi police officer, told Anadolu Agency.
The Iraqi military, backed by U.S.-led coalition warplanes and local allies on the ground, is currently engaged in a major offensive aimed at ousting Daesh from Mosul, which the group overran in 2014.
Since the operation began last October, Iraqi forces have reportedly recaptured more than a quarter of Mosul, once considered Iraq’s second largest city in terms of population.
Despite initial expectations that the city would be retaken by year’s end, Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi said last week that at least three more months would be required to completely extirpate Daesh from Iraq.
[Photo: Iraqi civilians are seen near Kirkuk, Iraq on December 24, 2016 to take shelter near peshmerga forces after they have fled from Daesh controlled Hawija district of Kirkuk, to find safer locations. Photographer: Muhabiri Ali Mukarrem Garip/AA]