Iraqi special forces capture two Mosul neighborhoods

MOSUL, Iraq,  Iraqi special forces seized control of two of Mosul’s eastern neighborhoods soon after government troops set foot in the city after more than two years of Islamic State control, military officials said.

Iraqi special forces have begun fighting against the Islamic State in Mosul’s eastern districts, with at least two neighborhoods being taken under Iraqi government control. In this image, an Iraqi soldier walks around a convoy as smoke rises in the background from burning oil fields damaged during fighting between Iraqi forces and the Islamic State fighters in the Qayara town near Mosul on Tuesday. Photo by Murat Bay/UPI | License Photo

Iraq’s Elite Counter-Terrorism Service has planned to go from house to house to search for any remaining IS militants in the Gogjali and Samaha districts. Some of the residents from those neighborhoods fled Friday to the Kurdish-controlled Khazir refugee camp.

The special forces are less than 1,000 feet from fortified Islamic State positions in Mosul. Clearing Samaha will “ensure security” for the larger district of Gogjali, army officials said.

“We have been carrying out searches today in the connecting roads between Gogjali and surrounding areas, we also question the locals about them which our forces need,” Iraqi Maj. Gen. Maadan al-Saadi told Rudaw.

Saadi told CNN that forces are working to clear the al-Karama, al-Zahra, al-Qudes and al-Tahrir neighborhoods from the Islamic State, also identified as Daesh, ISIS and ISIL.

Iraqi forces are specifically concerned about booby-trapped houses and land mines. On Tuesday, at least 15 Shiite militants fighting against the Islamic State were killed by such traps after entering villages near the town of Tal Afar.

There were an estimated 5,000 IS militants in Mosul prior to the start of Iraq’s

By Andrew V. Pestano