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Iraqi forces retake three of Mosul's bridges in battle with Islamic State

Iraqi forces have retaken three of Mosul's five bridges in a battle to retake Iraq's second-largest city from Islamic State, according to a senior Iraqi officer.

The bridges are in the south east of the city and come as Iraqi forces also advance in the north east, where they have begun battling IS fighters on the grounds of Mosul university.

Warplanes from the US-led coalition bombed the city's bridges late last year in an effort to isolate IS fighters in the city's east by disrupting resupply routes.

At Mosul University, senior commanders said that Iraqi forces have secured just under a quarter of the campus amid stiff resistance.

Iraqi forces entered the university from the south east on Friday morning and by nightfall had secured a handful of buildings, Brigadier General Haider Fadhil and Lt. Gen. Abdul-Wahab al-Saadi said on a tour of the university on Saturday.

Thick clouds of black smoke rose over the sprawling complex on Saturday morning.

By afternoon, clashes had intensified with volleys of sniper and mortar fire targeting the advancing Iraqi forces.

Convoys of Iraqi Humvees snaked through the complex, pausing for artillery and airstrikes to clear snipers perched in classrooms, dormitories and behind the trees that line the campus streets.

Unlike in the surrounding neighbourhoods, Iraqi officers said they believe the university grounds are largely empty of civilians and so have been able to use air more cover.

Iraqi soldiers said their initial advance faced less resistance than they faced during the first weeks of the Mosul operation.

"We were targeted with only four car bombs where before (IS) would send 20 in one day," special forces Lt. Zain al-Abadeen said. "And they aren't armoured like before, they're just using civilian cars."

The massive operation to retake Mosul from IS was launched in October. Since then Iraqi forces have slowly clawed back about a third of the city.

AP

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