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Iraqi Security Forces Storm Mosul Airport | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF) fires towards ISIS militants during a battle with Islamic State militants, west of Mosul,Iraq February 22, 2017. REUTERS/Stringer

U.S.-backed Iraqi security forces closing in on the ISIS-held western half of Mosul attacked the city’s main airport and a nearby military base, state television stated.

Counter-terrorism service (CTS) troops and elite interior ministry units known as Rapid Response descended towards the airport early on Thursday.

“Our forces started a major operation early this morning to storm the airport of Mosul and the Ghozlani base to dislodge ISIS terrorists. We can confirm that the Mosul airport militarily has fallen and it’s a matter of short time to fully control it,” CTS spokesman Sabah al-Numan told state TV.

The advances come days after Iraqi forces officially launched the operation to drive ISIS out of Mosul’s western half.

The operation to recapture Iraq’s second largest city kicked off in October. In January its eastern half was announced as “fully liberated.”

Loss of Mosul will be the end of the Iraqi side of ISIS’s alleged “caliphate.”

The U.S.-led coalition has been a great support in backing Iraqi forces with air strikes and advisers on the ground.

On Thursday U.S. forces in armored vehicles were moving on the airport with Iraqi forces.

“We will reach it today God willing,” Brigadier General Abbas al-Juburi of the Rapid Response force stated to AFP just over a kilometre (less than a mile) from the airport.

According to military officials, Forces have made very quick advances since the start of the year, aided by new tactics and improved coordination.