Smoke billows as Iraqi forces attack Mosul airport during an offensive. Pic/AFP
South of Mosul: US-backed Iraqi security forces captured Mosul airport on Thursday, state television said, in a major gain in operations to drive Islamic State from the western half of the city. Elite Counter Terrorism forces advanced from the southwestern side and entered the Ghozlani army base along with the southwestern districts of Tal al-Rumman and al-Mamoun.
Losing Mosul could spell the end of the Iraqi side of militants' self-styled caliphate in Iraq and Syria, which Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared from the city after sweeping through vast areas of Iraq in 2014. Iraqi forces hope to use the airport as a launch pad for their campaign to drive the militants from Iraq’s second largest city.
Turkey-backed Syrian rebels have seized control of almost all of Syria's al-Bab and are now working to find and clear mines, Turkey's defence minister told state-run Anadolu news agency on Thursday. The Free Syrian Army, backed by Turkish tanks, warplanes and special forces, have entered the centre of al-Bab, a town they have been besieging for weeks.