Iraqi forces begin assault on Mosul airport

Baghdad, Feb 23 (IANS) Iraqi joint forces on Thursday launched an offensive on Mosul airport, one of the strategic points in the western half of the city which is still in the hands of militants of the Islamic State (IS) terror group.

Iraqi Federal Police and Rapid Reaction Brigade stormed the airport, while the army attacked the al-Gazalani barracks, one of the most important IS locations in southwest Mosul, a senior defence official told Efe news.

The troops also stormed into two districts of Tel al Raman and Al Maamun at the same time as the raid on the airport.

The operation to recapture western Mosul was launched on February 19.

According to the UN, as many as 800,000 civilians live in western Mosul.

Eastern Mosul was recaptured last month.

The offensive to retake Mosul began in October with a push by the Iraqi army, counter-terrorism forces, federal police and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters.

The IS seized Mosul in 2014.