BAGHDAD – Iraqi forces battling the Islamic State group in west Mosul reached the city’s southernmost bridge Monday, a key step in efforts to defeat the jihadists in their stronghold, a spokesman said.
“The Rapid Response force and the federal police have liberated Jawsaq neighbourhood and now control the western end of the fourth bridge,” Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, spokesman for the Joint Operations Command, told media.
“That means the bridge is under control on both sides,” said Rasool.
The “fourth bridge” is the southernmost of five bridges — all of which are damaged and unusable — across the Tigris River that divides the northern Iraqi city.
Government forces retook the east bank from IS a month ago, completing a key phase in an offensive on Mosul that began on October 17 and has involved tens of thousands of fighters.
Securing the western end of the bridge will give Iraqi forces control of the river bank on both sides and allow engineering units to extend a floating bridge to use as a supply line.
Assembling a so-called “ribbon bridge” to reconnect both banks of the city is a key target of the military push launched on the west bank of Mosul earlier this month.