Iraqi forces battled Isil militants in their stronghold of Mosul yesterday and took control of the last major road leading west from the city, before bomb blasts ripped through a wedding party near Tikrit, killing more than 20.
The blasts in the village of Hajjaj, reported by local officials and medics as suicide attacks, were not immediately claimed, although Isil has carried out similar actions.
A police source said two blasts hit the wedding and two more targeted security forces at the scene shortly afterwards. There were ongoing clashes between security forces and militants in the area, he said.
Inside Mosul, troops battled Isil militants, who hid among the remaining civilian population and deployed snipers and suicide car bombs to defend their last major Iraq stronghold.
The US-backed campaign to crush the militants saw Iraqi forces recapture the eastern side of the city in January.
Militants used car bombs in a counter-attack on Tuesday night around the Nineveh governorate building, Major General Ali Kadhem al-Lami of the Federal Police’s Fifth Division said. “Today we’re clearing the area which was liberated,” he said.
Military officials had said that Rapid Response troops, an elite interior ministry division, recaptured the provincial government headquarters on Tuesday. They also took the central bank branch and a museum where militants had filmed themselves destroying priceless statues in 2015.
Maj Gen Lami said most of the fighters that had fought around the governorate building were local, but some were foreigners.
“An order was issued for foreign fighters with families to withdraw with them. Those who do not have a family should stay and fight, foreign or local,” he said.
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