Iraqi Forces Push Islamic State Out Of Mosul University
Iraqi special forces stormed the Mosul University complex in the city's northeast on Friday (January 13) and pushed forward to reach another bridge across the Tigris river, beating Islamic State (ISIS) further back, the military said.
The militants were fighting back at the university, which they seized when they took over the city in 2014. There were heavy clashes inside the campus, a Reuters reporter said.
Iraqi forces have recaptured most districts in eastern Mosul in nearly three months of a U.S.-backed offensive.
Major-general Sami al-Aridhi, a senior Iraqi counter-terrorism service (CTS) officer said the forces entered the technical college and some dorms.
"We were able to overcome the obstacles prepared by the terrorists, and we controlled the college and the dorm areas. We also brought down the large Daesh (Islamic State) flag in the university. This flag was known to be the highest one erected on the eastern side," he said.
Al-Aridhi said ISIS had their headquarters at the university and so it was a very important base in the eastern half of the city.
"They certainly had equipment and well-prepared bases here, so they tried to hold on to the area at first, but the fast advance and the strong attack by our forces pushed them out," he said.
Iraqi forces aim to take full control of the eastern bank of the Tigris river, which bisects Mosul from north to south, before they can launch attacks on the west, which ISIS still fully holds.
Driving the ultra-hardline group out of its Mosul stronghold will probably spell the end for the Iraqi side of its self-styled caliphate that stretches across areas of Iraq and Syria.
Earlier in the day, bulldozers smashed through a wall surrounding the campus and dozens of CTS troops sprinted through carrying rocket-propelled grenade launchers, a Reuters reporter said.
The recapture of the university is an important gain because it enables further advances as it overlooks areas closer to the river.
The ultra-hardline group seized nuclear materials used for scientific research from the university when they overran it in 2014, the United Nations says.
The U.S.-backed campaign to drive ISIS out of Mosul, involving a 100,000-strong force of Iraqi troops, Kurdish fighters and Shia militias, began in October.