Iraqi security forces took control of the last major road out of Mosul leading to another Islamic State stronghold as the warring sides battle for the district of Wadi al-Hajar.
Iraqi forces cut the Islamic States’ access to the highway near the village of Badush, which is about 6 miles west from Mosul proper, BBC News reported. The highway leads to Tal Afar, an Islamic State stronghold that the Hashd al-Shaabi Shiite-led militia is attempting to capture further west of Mosul.
In the offensive, Iraqi forces have driven the Islamic State out of the Mosul International Airport, the al-Ghazlani military base, a major electrical power station and the districts of al-Jawsaq and al-Tayyaran, which are in west Mosul’s south.
On Tuesday, a combination of Iraqi forces — spearheaded by the U.S.-trained Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service — surrounded the district of Wadi al-Hajar.
Iraqi Federal Police commander Haidar Matuli told Rudaw that forces will attempt to push northward into the al-Dawasa district.
Iraq on Feb. 19 launched its military offensive to retake western Mosul. The offensive to retake Mosul began on Oct. 17, led by Iraqi security forces and aided by the Kurdish Peshmerga, a Shiite-led militia, and the U.S.-led international coalition. Iraq fully captured east Mosul in late January.
The United Nations estimates from 650,000 to 750,000 civilians are in Mosul amid a humanitarian crisis in which shortages of food, water and fuel are widespread. Thousands of civilians have fled Mosul amid the latest fighting.