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Iraqi forces recapture strategic airport in west Mosul offensive

Iraqi military forces have regained control of Mosul airport, as part of their months-long operation to oust Isis from the country's second largest city.

The United States now has about 500 Special Operations forces on the ground in Syria.

Elite counter terrorism forces joined the battle on Thursday in the southwest, entering the Ghozlani army base and pushing towards the districts of Tal al-Rayyan and al-Mamoun.

Another special forces officer said IS targeted the advancing troops with a suicide auto bomb and dozens of bombs dropped from a drone.

The strategy calls for pressure on extremists from various directions, simultaneously with the operation of Iraqi forces to recover the western city of Mosul. The airport had been occupied by Daesh fighters.




On Friday, US Department of Defense spokesman Jeff Davis said the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) was close to fully isolating Raqqa as part of the operation to liberate the city from the Daesh.

Special forces led the assault on the Ghazlani military base adjacent to the airport, moving in from the south and engaging extremists in fierce fighting near the edge of the site. Covered in dust, he said IS fighters were targeting people as they tried to escape. A few meters behind them a mortar fired from inside Mosul hit a nearby hill.

Votel spoke to a small group of reporters accompanying him on a trip to the Middle East, shortly before the Pentagon is due to present President Trump with a plan for accelerating the defeat of ISIS in both Iraq and Syria.

The streets are older and narrower in the western section of the city, stretching west from the Tigris River that divides Mosul into the eastern and western half. The dense urban environment will likely force Iraqi soldiers to leave the relative safety of their armored vehicles. The battle for Mosul, backed by the US -led coalition, has already driven the militants from the eastern half of the city, which is divided roughly in half by the Tigris River.

Reports out of the Pentagon that this was likely to be the decision of their deliberation on war recommendations have repeatedly suggested an "accelerated" campaign in Syria with a large deployment of USA combat troops would at least be among the options President Trump faces.

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