Daesh trapped after Iraqi forces recapture Mosul airport - USA envoy

USA -backed Iraqi security forces captured Mosul airport from Islamic State on Thursday, advancing on multiple fronts towards the jihadists' last major stronghold in the western half of the city.

Private broadcaster Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen aired live footage from the Mosul airport perimeter, showing a military helicopter buzzing overheard and firing at IS positions as gunfire rattled. He said he doesn't anticipate being asked to leave by the government of Iraq after coalition forces retake the city of Mosul, the largest remaining ISIS stronghold within the country.

The commander of Iraqi Nineveh operations, Major General Najim al-Jubouri told EFE that at least 17 IS militants were killed in the first hours of fighting, during which the worldwide coalition aviation launched 50 bombings.

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Isis militants have responded by continuing to fire mortar rounds at the airport from areas under their control and have also entered a nearby military base, Reuters reported.

It's a key move in the government's operation to take control of the western half of the city and, ultimately, drive out the jihadist group from Iraq.

Rasool said heavy clashes were underway inside the base.

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Mosul is roughly split in half by the Tigris river, with government forces winning back control of the east in January following months of fighting. "The counterterrorism forces will be an additional force, which will expedite the liberation of Mosul's western side", Rasool told the AP.

"The western part is thought to be much harder to take because it is densely populated". Raqqa is its capital in Syria. Of those, more than 1,000 have been killed, according to Iraqi estimates.

Coalition aircraft and artillery have continued to bombard targets in the west during the break that followed the taking of eastern Mosul. Votel appeared in favor of this idea, but said it was also possible for the U.S. to bring in some other rebel faction to prop up for the attacks. We are trying to reach more than six million people across Iraq who need help.

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"We've been walking since the morning", his wife Badriya said as she held her 1 ½-year-old daughter.

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