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Iraqi forces enter IS-held Mosul University

Iraqi special forces have entered Mosul University as they continue their battle to take control of the city from Islamic State.

According to Iraqi officers, troops entered the grounds of the university early on Friday and secured parts of the building which is in the eastern half of Mosul.

Brigadier General Haider Fadhil confirmed the latest developments of the operation and added that Iraqi forces were now taking part in fierce battles with IS fighters inside the complex.

It comes a day after Iraqi army forces in the north of the city linked up with troops pushing in from the city’s eastern edge.

The university was once used by IS militants as a base and Iraqi officials said they had also used its chemistry laboratories to produce chemical weapons.

Iraqi special forces Lieutenant General Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi said it was unclear if the complex was still being used as an IS base.

Smoke could be seen rising from Mosul as Iraqi forces entered the university
Image Caption:
Smoke could be seen rising from Mosul as Iraqi forces entered the university

IS has constantly moved bases as militants have come under heavy bombardment from US-led coalition airstrikes and often use civilians as cover.

Earlier this month Iraqi forces retook a hospital which IS had converted into one of its bases.

The fight against IS in Iraq over the last few years has left a trail of destruction with key buildings and infrastructure destroyed.

A report released this week highlighted the environmental damages caused by oil fires intentionally started by retreating IS militants.

Iraqi troops in Hadba, northern Mosul, as Iraq's special forces reach the Tigris for the first time. Pic YouTube/Al-Mawsleya via Storyful
8 Jan: Iraqi troops push further into Mosul

The UN said 11 of the fires have been extinguished, but 29 continue to burn, sending thick black smoke into the air.

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

Iraqi officials have pledged that the city would be liberated this year but the fight is likely to go on for many more months.

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