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Iraqi Troops Reach Tigris River in Mosul | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Iraqi forces backed by tribal militias during battle to retake a village from the Islamic State on the eastern bank of the river Tigris, Iraq December 7, 2016. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Iraqi special forces battling ISIS reached the eastern bank of the Tigris River in Mosul on Sunday for the first time in a three-month, military officials confirmed.

Units of Iraq’s elite counter-terrorism service (CTS) have fought their way to the eastern bank of Tigris, spokesman Sabah al-Numan told Reuters.

This is the first time the Iraqi troops have reached Tigris River, which bisects Mosul, since the beginning of the U.S-backed offensive to capture the city from the militants on October 17. Troops had only entered the eastern neighborhoods of Mosul, ISIS’ last major stronghold in Iraq.

“This morning CTS troops advanced in two directions towards the Baladiyat and Sukkar districts,” Lieutenant General Abdelwahab al-Saadi said.

“During the advance, ISIS tried to confront us from the historic hill,” he said, referring to an elevated area near the ruins of the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh, east of the river and inside Mosul.

Saadi said Iraqi forces and warplanes from the international coalition “dealt with” ISIS militants positioned on the hill, and dozens were killed.

Iraqi Forces, as well as CTS, have advanced inside Mosul as part of a 100,000-strong force backed by new tactics and improved coordination. After a period of stuttering advances last month, Iraqi forces have gained momentum in a new push since around the start of the year.