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CTS Units Comb Mosul University Faculties, Discover Chemical Weapons | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Destroyed buildings of the University of Mosul are seen during a battle with ISIS militants, in Mosul, Iraq, January 14, 2017. REUTERS/Ahmed Saad

Mosul- Iraqi forces continued for the second day in a row combing through former ISIS-held buildings in Mosul, only to find chemical substances the terror group used for making explosives.

Iraqi special forces drove back ISIS militants in the Mosul University campus on Saturday, while elite police units took over large areas along the east bank of the Tigris river, military officials said.

“We entered the university and cleared the technical institute, dentistry and antiquities departments,” Lieutenant General Abdelwahab al-Saadi of Iraq’s Counter Terrorism Service, CTS told a Reuters reporter in the complex.

“In the coming hours it will be liberated completely,” he said.

The militants seized nuclear materials used for scientific research from the university when they overran Mosul and vast areas of northern Iraq and eastern Syria in 2014, according to the U.N.

ISIS has used chemical agents including mustard gas in a number of attacks in Iraq and Syria, U.S. officials, rights groups and residents say.

Not to mention that ISIS have become the bulk of boots holding positions in Mosul, after the internationally-backed offensive to retake their last Iraqi stronghold recorded sweeping advances. The terror group now resorts to means of suicide attackers as a chief strategy when combating army units in Mosul.

The head of CTS said security forces were close to seizing the entire east bank of the Tigris, which bisects Mosul north to south. Such an advance will bring at least half of ISIS’ last major stronghold in Iraq back under government control.

Iraqi forces have made rapid advances since the new year, as part of a nearly three-month, U.S.-backed offensive.

For the ultra-hardline group, losing Mosul would probably spell the end of the Iraqi side of its self-styled caliphate, which it declared in 2014.

The military will be able to begin attacks on western Mosul, which ISIS still fully controls, once it has captured the eastern bank of the Tigris River. The militants have fought back fiercely with car bombs and snipers, and have used civilians as cover.