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Iraqi Forces Seize Mosul Bridge after Fierce Battles | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Displaced Iraqi women who just fled their home,rest in the desert as they wait to be transported while Iraqi forces battle with ISIS militants in western Mosul, Iraq February 27, 2017. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

Mosul – Iraqi forces seized on Monday the fourth bridge of Mosul and purged it from ISIS in a major step towards restoring control over the whole city.

“Forces have laid hands on the major link between al-Tayran district and Dawasah,” said Federal Police Chief Lieutenant-General Raed Shaker Jawdat.

ISIS militants put houses and buildings on fire before fleeing, while Iraqi security forces rescued dozens of besieged families. “Thanks God we survived ISIS – the organization is expelling besieged families from their houses and obliging them to head towards ISIS-ruled regions to use them as human shields,” a citizen said.

The security forces capture of the fourth bridge is a key step to open a passage for the forces to advance towards their objective in a quest to intensify pressure against extremists’ strongholds.

Despite the gradual advance in the right side, security forces are expected to face a tougher resistance in some towns considered to be strongholds for the extremists in this part of the city, where streets are narrow and hurdle the passage of most military vehicles used by Iraqi forces.

Since government forces broke through the city’s southern limits on Thursday, more than 10,000 civilians have fled ISIS-held areas, seeking medical assistance, food and water, Iraqi commanders said.

About 1,000 civilians arrived in the early hours of Monday at the sector held by the Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), the wounded were taken to the clinic of this elite unit, while men were screened to make sure they are not ISIS members.

Among the people treated at the CTS clinic was a little girl with a blood on her face and another woman with shrapnel in her hand, lying immobile, apparently unconscious.

An old man who came with them said about 20 people were sheltering in their house when it was hit by an air strike two days ago in the southwestern Maamoun district.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is extremely concerned about the humanitarian situation facing families in western Mosul. Trucks piled up with people where watched leaving the city – a woman said: “They blew up our houses and vehicles.”