March 16 (UPI) — An Iraqi Federal Police official said security forces captured Mosul’s Old Bridge, also known as the Iron Bridge, in the battle against the Islamic State.
Iraqi forces now control three out of Mosul’s five bridges over the Tigris River, Iraqi Federal Police Comdr. Shakir Jawdat said in a statement on Wednesday. The bridges, all of which are damaged, connect the eastern and western halves of the city.
One of the next objectives of Iraqi forces is to capture Mosul’s Great Mosque of al-Nuri, also known as the Noor mosque, where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is believed to have delivered a sermon in which he declared an Islamic State caliphate. Construction of the mosque was completed in the year 1172.
Iraqi forces are less than 2,000 feet away from the mosque, which is located in Mosul’s densely populated Old City, Rudaw reported.
Iraq launched its military offensive to retake western Mosul from the Islamic State, also known as Daesh, ISIL and ISIS, on Feb. 19. The offensive to retake Mosul began Oct. 17, led by Iraqi security forces and aided by the Kurdish Peshmerga, a Shiite-led militia, and the U.S.-led international coalition. Iraq fully captured east Mosul in late January.
The United Nations’ International Organization for Migration on Wednesday said nearly 100,000 people have been displaced from west Mosul since Feb. 25.