Iraqi forces retake half of western Mosul

Iraqi forces retake half of western MosulIraq says it has driven the Islamic State group out of more than half of western Mosul nearly a month after launching an operation to seize the remainder of the city from the extremists, The Associated Press reported on Thursday.

Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, a military spokesman, told The Associated Press that U.S.-backed Iraqi troops have recaptured up to 60 percent of the city's western half, with the fighting still underway. Iraq declared eastern Mosul "fully liberated" in January.

Commanders on the ground are less upbeat, saying the front lines have moved only a few hundred meters over the past week, as the militants have deployed car bombs against the advancing troops.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Tuesday said the government offensive to recapture the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants was in its final stages.

Also on Wednesday, the International Organization for Migration said nearly 100,000 people have poured out of west Mosul in less than three weeks as Iraqi forces fought to retake the area from jihadists.

Between February 25 and March 15, more than 97,000 people have been displaced from west Mosul.

The IOM also said that Iraqi government figures indicated a total of more than 116,000 people from west Mosul had gone through a screening site south of the city.
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