Judicial complex, police directorate and a key bridge wrested from ISIS
Iraqi Prime Minister tells militants: 'Surrender or be killed.'
Iraqi forces have taken control of key government buildings and a bridge in western Mosul as part of their push to retake the city from ISIS.
The Iraqi Prime Minister warned remaining militants to surrender or face death.
Among the buildings recaptured from ISIS on Monday were the Mosul Museum, the judicial government complex and the Nineveh police directorate building, Abdel Amir al-Mohamadi, Commander of the Rapid Response Forces of the Iraqi Federal Police, told CNN.
The supreme court, central bank and electricity and water authority headquarters were also retaken in what the commander described as a surprise attack that killed more than 130 ISIS fighters.
It is the first time these buildings have been under Iraqi government control since 2014. Located in a strategic area, they will provide better access to Mosul’s old city, which forces are seeking to recapture.
“The Mosul Museum is completely destroyed and leveled to the ground. ISIS militants have looted and destroyed the museum artifacts and have rigged explosives around the buildings and leveled it to the ground,” al-Mohamadi told CNN.
Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, fell to ISIS in June 2014 as thousands of militants swept over several cities in north and central areas.
The offensive to retake the city began in October 2016. US forces in the area are providing advice and assistance to Iraqi units.
The Tigris river divides Mosul into east and west. The east was liberated in January and the second phase, to clear militants from the west, was launched on February 19.
Iraqi forces also captured the the Al-Huriya bridge on Monday, the second of five bridges across the Tigris to be seized from ISIS control, according to Iraqi federal police.
In February, the International Rescue Committee warned this part of the operation to retake Mosul could be the “most dangerous phase” for civilians as Iraqi troops seek to secure densely populated areas amid ISIS resistance.
The number of civilians fleeing western Mosul in recent weeks has topped 62,000, an Iraqi official from the Ministry of Migration and Displaced told CNN Tuesday.
UNHCR, the UN refugee agency, has opened a new camp at Chamakor, around 20km east of the city, which received 347 arrivals from western Mosul on Monday evening.
In a statement, the agency said camps to the east of the city are filling up while those to the south are full. Over 195,000 displaced people are being sheltered in 21 camps around Mosul.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and Iraq’s Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces arrived in Mosul Tuesday to inspect the ground forces that won back the government area on Monday, according to a statement from the Iraqi Prime Minister’s office.
Speaking to reporters during the visit, the Prime Minister said: “We tell ISIS either to surrender yourselves and be given a fair trial, or you will be killed.”
Meanwhile Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Rasheed Yarallah, the commander of Iraqi forces in Nineveh, told CNN that the advancement in western Mosul continued Tuesday.