Iraqi troops enter another IS-held neighborhood in Mosul
BAGHDAD (AP) -- The Iraqi army on Tuesday entered another neighborhood held by the Islamic State group in the southeastern part of Mosul, a statement said.
The commander of a joint operations center that oversees the Mosul campaign, Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Yarellah, said that soldiers from the 9th Division took over the hospital building in the al-Salam neighborhood.
Yarellah did not provide more details but said the troops have "continued clearing" the neighborhood of IS militants.
Iraqi forces, backed the U.S.-led international coalition, launched a campaign in October to retake Mosul, the country's second largest city and IS's last major urban bastion in Iraq. Most gains have been made by special forces operating in the section of Mosul east of the Tigris River, while other forces are advancing on the city from other directions.
In an audio recording published online, the newly-appointed spokesman of IS, Abu al-Hassan al-Muhajir, urged the fighters in Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa to keep up the fight and not to retreat. In his nearly 30-minute speech, al-Muhajir called on Muslims and "Caliphate soldiers" to strike inside Turkey and against its diplomatic missions as well as launching attacks in other parts of the world.
It was not clear when the recording was produced; it was distributed by the militant group's al-Furqan media arm late Monday night. Al-Muhajir replaced Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, who was killed in an airstrike in August.
IS captured Mosul in the summer of 2014 as part of a blitz that placed nearly a third of Iraq under their control, along large swaths of neighboring Syria. Iraqi troops, federal police and allied Shiite and Sunni militias have over the past year pushed IS militants from most of the vast Sunni province of Anbar, west of Baghdad, and areas to the north and east of the Iraqi capital.
Associated Press writer Maamoun Youssef in Cairo contributed to this report.