Lieutenant Colonel Diya Lafta said troops from his Ninth Armored Division began advancing toward the villages on Thursday morning, and liberated them from the clutches of ISIS extremists “after a few hours.”
Witnesses said government forces were mostly in control of the village of Shereikhan by afternoon, but skirmishes between Iraqi army troops and the militants continued in the surrounding villages.
The development came on the same day that Iraqi forces targeted ISIS fortifications across the Tigris River and in western Mosul as part of preparations for the next phase of the military campaign against the Takfiris.
“We are noticing gatherings of the enemy on the other side and vehicles and we try to deal with them with all the weapons we have. We are now absolutely ready to begin our assault on the western side and God willing victory will be ours,” Major Mohamed Ali said.
The Iraqi army announced in a statement on Sunday that all districts of eastern Mosul had been cleared of ISIS militants, after retaking al-Milayeen neighborhood and al-Binaa al-Jahiz area. Government forces raised the national flag over buildings there.
In a statement on Tuesday, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi lauded the “unmatched heroism of all security forces factions” and public support for the operation.
ISIS still maintains firm control over the western quarter of Mosul. The United Nations estimates that some 750,000 civilians are trapped in the area as Iraqi army soldiers and their allies are gearing up for the next phase of fighting against the militants.
ISIS Drone Drops Explosives on Residential Building in Mosul
Meanwhile, three members of a family sustained injures when a drone belonging to the ISIS terror group dropped explosives on a house in the Bab al-Toub neighborhood of central Mosul.
A local source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Mosul residents have been victims of ISIS drones over the past few weeks. The unmanned aerial vehicles drop explosives on residential buildings.
Hashd al-Sha’abi Fighters Repulse ISIS Attack in Anbar
Additionally, fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units – commonly known by the Arabic word Hashd al-Sha’abi – foiled a ISIS assault on al-Rahaliyah area in the western province of Anbar, killing and wounding several extremists.
Iraqi army soldiers, supported by pro-government Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters and Kurdish Peshmerga forces, launched a joint operation on October 17 to retake Mosul from ISIS terrorists; Press TV reported.