Iraqi forces begin operation to retake Mosul airport

The latest advance comes days after the operation to liberate western Mosul

Iraqi forces begin operation to retake Mosul airport

Image: Bram Janssen AP/Press Association Images

US-backed Iraqi forces have moved to retake Mosul's main airport and a nearby military base from Islamic State.

The assault, backed by jets, drones and gunships, is part of the ongoing campaign to retake full control of the city from the jihadist terror group.

Iraqi police forces attacked the disused airport, on the southern approach to the city, which is still held by the jihadists.

Special forces led the assault on a military base adjacent to the airport, moving in from the south and engaging extremists in fierce fighting at the edge of the Ghazlani base.

The latest advance comes days after the operation to liberate western Mosul, Islamic State's last major stronghold in Iraq, led by the regular Iraqi army and federal police, began on Sunday.

The battle for that part of the city is expected to be especially difficult, as the old, narrow streets mean forces will need to leave the protection of their military vehicles and engage in close-quarters fighting.

The operation is likely to be complicated by the terror group's use of IEDs and the estimated 750,000 civilians still living there.

The country's second largest city is roughly split in half by the Tigris river, with government forces winning back control of the east in January following months of fighting.

(Additional reporting from IRN)