Iraqi forces seized 13 villages from the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) in the past two days, after they launched a daunting operation Sunday (February 19th) to retake west Mosul.
On Tuesday, Iraqi troops continued their advance towards Mosul International Airport, Ninawa operations commander Lt. Gen. Abdul Ameer Rashid Yarallah told Diyaruna.
The sky south of Mosul was black with smoke from airstrikes and artillery as thousands of forces in armoured convoys converged on the airport.
"The villages of al-Haraqyat, al-Jamasa, Adhba, Bakhira, al-Abyadh, al-Kafur, al-Lazaka, Albu Jawari, al-Ibrahimiya, al-Sheikh Yunis, al-Qunaytra, al-Zakrutia and al-Husseiniya, as well as a power plant and a residential complex, have been retaken," Yarallah said.
"At least 80 terrorists have been killed in battles, clashes and international coalition airstrikes on ISIL positions and defences," he said.
An estimated 2,000 ISIL fighters are left in west Mosul, a senior US intelligence official said Monday on condition of anonymity, according to AFP.
The estimate the international coalition gave before the October 17th launch of the operation on Mosul was that the city was defended by 5,000 to 7,000 extremists.