Iraqi forces take control of Mosul airport

The Iraq army wants to use the airport, and a nearby base, as a launchpad to drive Daesh out of western Mosul.

Photo by: AFP
Photo by: AFP

Smoke billows as Iraqi forces attack Mosul airport during an offensive to retake the western side of Mosul from Daesh on February 23, 2017.

US-backed Iraqi security forces took control of Mosul airport in a major step to drive Daesh out of western Mosul, Iraqi state TV said on Thursday.

Iraqi forces plan to use the airport as a launchpad for their campaign to drive the militants from Iraq's second largest city.

Security forces had battled their way into the airport as Daesh militants fought back using suicide car bombs.

A witness saw more than 100 civilians, some of them wounded, fleeing towards Iraqi security forces from the district of al-Mamoun.

"Daesh fled when security Humvees reached al-Mamoun. We were afraid and we decided to escape towards the Humvees," said civilian Ahmed Atiya.

TRT World's Nicole Johnston has the update from Erbil in Iraq. 

In another battle not far from the airport, security forces are fighting Daesh gunmen to recapture a former army base.

The Ghozlani base includes barracks and training grounds close to the Baghdad-Mosul highway.

US-backed Iraqi and coalition forces are still battling Daesh at a nearby military base. Iraq wants to use the airport and the base as a launchpad to drive Daesh out of western Mosul. (AFP)

Coalition forces on Monday dislodged Daesh from Abu Saif, a village overlooking Mosul airport, and prepared to push further into the western half of the city where 650,000 civilians remain trapped.

The Iraqi government and its allies launched what Baghdad called a "decisive operation" on October 17, 2016 to retake the whole of Mosul which fell to Daesh in 2014.

The campaign involves a 100,000-strong force of Iraqi troops, Kurdish fighters and Shia militias, backed by the United States and Iran.

Mosul's eastern half was retaken by the government last month.

TRTWorld, Reuters