World Bulletin / News Desk
Iraqi forces, backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, launched a much-awaited offensive late Sunday to retake Mosul -- the last ISIL stronghold in northern Iraq, which was overrun by the extremist group in 2014.
“Police forces have managed to clear 352 kilometers [from ISIL] since the start of the Mosul operation,” federal police commander Lt. Gen. Raed Shakir said in statements cited by the Interior Ministry’s website.
No further details were given by the commander about the areas where ISIL militants had been ousted.
Military officer Tahsin Abd, for his part, said Iraqi troops have rescued more than 100 families south of Mosul.
In mid-2014, ISIL captured Mosul -- Iraq’s second-largest city -- before overrunning large swathes of territory in the country’s northern and western regions.
Recent months have seen the Iraqi army, backed by local allies on the ground and a U.S.-led air coalition, retake much territory. Nevertheless, the extremist group remains in control of several parts of the country, including Mosul.
In recent weeks, the army and its allies have staged a gradual advance on the city, which officials in Baghdad have vowed to recapture by year’s end.