BAGHDAD Iraqi special forces swept the campus of Mosul University on Sunday to clear it of any remaining Islamic State militants after taking full control of the area, a spokesman said.
Counter-terrorism service (CTS) troops drove the jihadists back inside the strategically located university complex and seized clusters of buildings including colleges on Saturday, an important gain towards retaking the entire eastern half of the city.
“The university is completely liberated and forces are sweeping the complex for any hiding militants,” CTS spokesman Sabah al-Numan told Reuters by phone. “Most buildings are booby-trapped so we’re being cautious.”
“We’re not stopping,” he added, saying the CTS was working to push into areas next to the university.
Parts of the sprawling campus overlook neighbouring districts in eastern Mosul, making it a crucial gain for taking remaining IS-held areas along the Tigris river, an Iraqi commander said this week.
Iraqi forces, backed by air cover from a U.S.-led coalition, say they are close to recapturing the entire eastern bank of the river, bringing them in full control of eastern Mosul, and thus half of IS’s last major Iraq stronghold.
Attacks on the west of the city, which Islamic State still fully controls, can begin once the east is secured. The Tigris bisects Mosul from north to south.
(Reporting by Saif Hameed, writing by John Davison; Editing by Susan Fenton)