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Iraqi forces closely supported by the US -led global coalition pushed into the first neighborhood of western Mosul and took full control of the city's worldwide airport and a sprawling military base on the southwestern edge of the city, according to Iraqi officials.

Suspected ISIS auto bombs killed at least 50 people in the village of Sousyan, about 10km north-west of al-Bab, on Friday, witnesses and the opposition activist-run Aleppo Media Centre said.

Special forces Lt. Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi said that his troops are "moving very slowly" and that IS fighters are responding with vehicle bombs, snipers and dozens of armed drones.

"The attack came from several directions and killed 15 border guards, including two officers", he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Ziyad, a 16-year-old living in Hawi al-Josaq, told a Reuters correspondent he had seen foreign IS militants withdraw as Iraqi forces advanced, leaving only local fighters behind. Iraqi authorities declared Mosul's Eastern half "fully liberated" from the militants in January, three months after launching the operation to take back Iraq's second-largest city, Herald Online reported.

The announcement comes hours after PMF said they had recaptured eight villages (40 Kilometers of land) near the strategic town of Tal Afar, a major ISIL stronghold where PMF operations have been concentrated since the launch of operations to liberate Mosul in October.

Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford says that the Pentagon is considering a "long-term commitment" to operations in Iraq, intending to keep troops in the country after the ISIS war, with an eye toward keeping Iraq's military propped up.

The UN estimates that around 250,000 civilians will be displaced from Mosul's western side due to the anti-Daesh offensive.

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They started closing in on the airport four days ago.

Iraqi commanders expect the battle to be more hard as they get closer to the old city in part because tanks and armoured vehicles can not pass through its narrow alleyways.

However, another source within the Iraqi forces was less confident, saying that they had control of most of Mosul airport and the sprawling military base nearby.

Earlier this week, almost 4,000 people killed by IS militants were found buried in the Khasfa sinkhole located near the Baghdad-Mosul highway, not far from Mosul, The Telegraph reported, citing police, activists and local residents.

Aridhi said the CTS, the most-seasoned force in Iraq, had suffered no losses since the renewed push on west Mosul was launched on Sunday.

The BBC's Quentin Sommerville, who is embedded in the area with federal police, said this next stage of the battle would be even tougher, as the streets are narrow and the area is more heavily populated.

Iraqi government forces plan to fix the airport and use it as a base from which to drive the militants from Mosul's western districts, where about 750,000 people are believed to be trapped.

Mosul, 400 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, has been under the IS control since June 2014, when Iraqi government forces abandoned their weapons and fled, enabling IS militants to take control of parts of Iraq's northern and western regions.


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