Iraqi forces were on Wednesday poised to launch a bid to recapture Mosul airport as part of their military offensive to wrest the northern city from the Islamic State terror group.
Federal police chief Raed Shaker Jowdat told EFE news that Iraqi forces had weakened the town of Abu Saif, just south of the airport, with artillery and mortar fire.
The town would be a launching pad for an offensive to secure the strategic transport hub.
"This situation will facilitate the takeover of the airport and the complex of government buildings for the next stage of the crucial battle for Mosul," the police chief said.
From a military point of view, the town of Abu Saif had practically fallen to the advancing forces, Jowdat said.
Commander of the Liberation of Nineveh Operation, Najim al-Jabouri said the fight to regain control of the airport was one of the foremost objectives in the battle.
The commander said liberation forces had surrounded the city, providing an escape route for the trapped citizens of the jihadist-held city.
A coalition of Iraqi forces, Kurdish Peshmerga and powerful Shia militia have encircled Mosul, cutting off the IS escape route to their Syrian stronghold Raqqa and providing exit corridors to fleeing families.
The police chief said 1,300 IS fighters had been killed since the launch of the battle for Mosul, adding that 210 car bombs had been destroyed.
Some 15,000 families, who had been used as human shields by the IS, had been evacuated.
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