Mosul's northern district of Arabi has been freed from the control of Islamic State (Isis) following three days of intense fighting between Iraqi government soldiers and the militants.

The Iraqi army, along with US-led coalition forces, is now gearing up to launch an assault to liberate the last major district of Rashidiyah in north Mosul. Rudaw reported that the coalition forces have already started bombing IS (Daesh) positions in Rashidiyah neighbourhoods, while the Iraqi army has closed in.

On Friday (20 January), the Iraqi army's 15th and 16th divisions, which entered the Arabi neighbourhood, faced strong resistance from the terrorists. Heavy clashes followed for the next two days, but Iraq's joint command announced the "full liberation" of the district on Saturday (21 January).

Meanwhile, Iraqi forces and the coalition announced reclaiming east Mosul last week, marking a major victory in their campaign to liberate the Isis stronghold. The Mosul offensive had started in October 2016.

The forces are now advancing to liberate north and west Mosul. In north Mosul, the jihadists are still in control of Rashidiyah and Malayin neighbourhoods, which are the next targets for the Iraqi army, Rudaw reported.

On Saturday, the US-led coalition said in a statement that their warplanes were attacking Isis militants fleeing east Mosul in boats. Since 18 January, the air strikes targeted 90 watercraft and three barges on the Tigris river in Mosul. The Iraqi forces, after liberating east Mosul, are in control of all the five bridges on the river.

The coalition said Isis militants were using many of these watercraft to ferry their fighters and equipment across the river from east Mosul to west Mosul.

Mosul offensive
Iraqi forces, along with US-led coalition, liberated Arabi neighbourhood in north Mosul and are now advancing towards the last major district in the north - File photo Reuters