Daesh trapped after Iraqi forces recapture Mosul airport - U.S. envoy

Backed by the US -led worldwide coalition, Iraqi forces fought their way Thursday into a sprawling military base outside of Mosul and onto the grounds of the city's airport, taking control of the runway amid fierce exchanges of fire with Daesh militants.

The Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) special forces seized 85 percent of Ghazlani military base in the southern outskirts of the western side of Mosul after heavy battles with the extremist militants, the Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a statement. Iraqi and US-led coalition forces liberated the eastern part of the city in January.

Military police have entered the airport and taken over the runway amid fierce clashes with IS militants, AP reported.

The commander of Iraqi Nineveh operations, Major General Najim al-Jubouri told EFE that at least 17 IS militants were killed in the first hours of fighting, during which the global coalition aviation launched 50 bombings.

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Rasool said heavy clashes were underway inside the base. Daesh was thought to have up to 6,000 militants in Mosul when the government's offensive started in mid-October.

"It could be that we take on a larger burden ourselves", he said. "That's an option".

Making up for a lack of fighters, IS militants are increasingly relying on modified commercial drones to guide suicide auto bombers to their targets and to launch small-scale airstrikes on Iraqi forces.

"There are many injured still inside", said a dust-covered Khalaf of his neighborhood south of Mosul. "We don't have all of the funding we need and many partners are facing major capacity constraints", she said. A few meters behind them a mortar fired from inside Mosul hit a nearby hill.

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Shortly after taking office, Trump issued a directive ordering the Pentagon to conduct a 30-day review of the fight against ISIS in order to "accelerate" the campaign against the extremist group. The dense urban environment will likely force Iraqi soldiers to leave the relative safety of their armored vehicles.

Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the commander overseeing the USA -led anti-ISIS coalition, said Monday that US forces in Iraq will likely "be in this fight for a while".

Mosul fell to IS in the summer of 2014, along with large swaths of northern and western Iraq.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said last week that Russian Federation will need to "prove itself first" by upholding worldwide law and norms before the USA would be willing to work together against ISIS inside Syria.

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The Shiite militias already hold a small airport outside Tal Afar, which is s located some 93 miles (150 kilometers) east of the Syrian border.


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