Iraqi forces have made a crucial step in the bloody quest to retake Mosul from the Islamic State, according to a spokesman for the country’s military. Iraqi Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool announced that the city’s university has been fully retaken from ISIS militants.
Special forces, known in Iraq as the Counter-Terrorism Service, or CTS, raised the Iraqi flag above the campus Friday, the Associated Press reports — but the troops were still days away from claiming complete control.
“Iraqi forces entered the university grounds Friday and managed to secure more than half of the campus the next day amid stiff resistance from IS militants, who mainly deployed sniper and mortar fire to slow down the advancing troops,” the wire service adds Sunday.
Iraqi military launched its campaign to retake the northern city — the last major Iraqi city still in ISIS hands — last October. The former Iraqi commercial center is the place ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi first declared the caliphate, or Islamic state, shortly after the group captured it in June 2014. And it has been one of the central pillars of the militant group’s diminishing territorial claims.