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Iraq Air Force Bombs ISIS in Syria for First Time

25 February 2017

The Iraqi air force struck Islamic State group targets inside neighbouring Syria, the country's prime minister said on Friday.

"Yes we were aware, yes we supported it as well with information", Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis told reporters.

The offensive to regain the western half of Mosul started six days ago, and the assault on the airport and military base, which started early Thursday was closely backed by airstrikes and ground support from US -led coalition forces.

The two-pronged advance is part of a USA -baked offensive aimed at driving the Islamic State group from western Mosul.

Meanwhile, Iraqi forces also secured the Ghozlani army base in southwest Mosul.

Iraqi Federal policemen celebrate while standing between the liberated airport and sugar plant in western Mosul, Iraq, Feb. 24.

By early afternoon, federal police commander Maj.

While the fight in Mosul rages on, the Popular Mobilization Force - a mostly Shiite militia that has formally been made part of the Iraqi armed forces - moved into position in the west, between the nearby ISIS-held town of Tal Afar and the Syrian border, where they're being supported by Iraqi air force F-16s.

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Iraq's second city, a critical Isis stronghold split by the Tigris river, is divided between government forces holding the eastern bank of the city and Isis in command of the western side.

Iraq began its invasion of Mosul back in October, and claimed to have fully captured the city's east in January, though ongoing fighting has been reported there ever since.

Global relations professor Houchang Hassan-Yari of the Royal Military College of Canada told VOA's Persian service the concentration of civilians in western Mosul will make it harder for Iraqi government forces and their coalition allies to retake that part of the city.

The burnt corpses of two militants and the motorcycle from which they had fired at Iraqi forces were lying under a tree, apparently hit by an air strike.

The presence of up to 750,000 civilians will also pose a challenge.

Iraq's Joint Operations Command said in a separate statement that the F16 fighter jets destroyed Daesh positions and headquarters in Hosaiba and Albu Kamal on Friday morning. He said the Iraqis have advanced further than where coalition planners thought they would be by the end of the first day of fighting.

Iraqi forces, backed by coalition forces and US air support, pushed into Mosul's western Mamun neighborhood on Friday, where they were immediately met with intense gunfire from ISIS militants.

After taking the eastern half of the city, Iraqi forces halted operations for three weeks in order to form a strategy that would retake the city's western half.

Iraq Air Force Bombs ISIS in Syria for First Time