Iraqis Advance Into Mosul, IS Leader Flees

Iraqis Advance Into Mosul, IS Leader FleesIraqis Advance Into Mosul, IS Leader Flees

Iraqi special forces recaptured six districts of eastern Mosul on Friday, a military statement said, expanding the army’s foothold in the stronghold of the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group a day after its leader told his militant followers there could be no retreat.

An officer in the elite Counter Terrorism Service said CTS troops launched a major operation against the militants who are now almost surrounded in their last major urban redoubt in Iraq, Reuters reported.

However, Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on Friday the IS leader, who on Thursday denied the terror group was on the brink of losing control in the besieged northern Iraqi city of Mosul, has himself fled.

Johnson told the House of Commons that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s call for militants not to retreat when faced with Iraqi forces was “cruelly ironic” because intelligence suggested he had fled the city, the Daily Mail reported.

The special forces took over the neighborhoods of Malayeen, Samah, Khadra, Karkukli, Quds and Karama, the statement said, inflicting heavy losses on the militant fighters and raising the Iraqi flag over buildings.

One special forces officer told Reuters the CTS units may try to push all the way to the Tigris River, which runs through the center of Mosul. Iraqi television footage from the east of the city showed grey smoke rising, and a Reuters reporter in the village of Ali Rash, 7 km to the southeast, heard helicopter gunships and cannon fire. Volleys of automatic rifle fire, possibly from the militants, were also audible.

A senior officer in the village said Iraqi troops had also taken two-thirds of another Mosul district, Intisar, in the same eastern section of the city.


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