April 27 (UPI) — The Iraqi Army on Thursday said security forces are four districts away from fully capturing Mosul from the control of the Islamic State.
Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service spokesman Sabah al-Nuaman said security forces killed about 500 Islamic State militants and captured the Islamic State’s “core” when it seized the al-Tenek district. Nuaman said forces need to capture four more Mosul neighborhoods before completely capturing Iraq’s second-largest city.
The U.S.-led international coalition estimates there are less than 1,000 Islamic State militants remaining in Mosul. Iraqi forces are focused in an effort to take Mosul’s Old City, where the Great Mosque of al-Nuri is located, from which 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.
Also on Thursday, the Hashd al-Shaabi Shiite militia said it captured the town of Hazar, south of Mosul, away from Islamic State control. The militia said it began moving 5,000 people out of town.
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 Nation’s International Organization for Migration in Iraq said last week that more than 331,000 people have been displaced from west Mosul since Feb. 25. Nearly half a million Iraqis have been displaced since the Mosul offensive began in October.