Iraqi forces raise flag over Mosul University


Associated Press

MOSUL, Iraq

Iraqi special forces raised the Iraqi flag above buildings within the Mosul University complex Friday as they battled Islamic State militants for control of the city, according to senior Iraqi officers and the U.S.-led coalition.

The troops entered the university grounds in the morning hours and by afternoon they had taken control of a neighborhood on the northeastern edge of the university compound and the technical institute within the campus, according to special forces Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil and Maj. Gen. Sami al-Aridi.

By evening, Iraqi forces had also taken control of the Nineveh governorate and council buildings, according to a statement from the U.S.-led coalition.

“Work still needs to be done but ISIL’s days in Mosul are quickly coming to an end,” said U.S. Army Col. John Dorrian, a spokesman for the U.S.-led anti-IS coalition.

Al-Aridi, who was overseeing the assault Friday, said, “We broke through the terrorists’ defenses, and we destroyed their lines and their units and their bases.”

The university is located in the eastern section of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city which is divided by the Tigris River into roughly an eastern and a western half.

Sgt. Saad Jabar said that over the past two years since IS seized Mosul in a 2014 blitz that captured much of northern and western Iraq, the militants have had time to prepare for an assault by Iraqi forces, building tunnels and getaways across the city, including on the university grounds.

Regardless, Iraqi special forces Lt. Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi said retaking the university would be a major symbolic victory in the fight for Mosul.

As the Mosul operation enters its fourth month, Iraqi forces have retaken about a third of the city that has been under tight IS control for more than two years.

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