Iraqi police have reportedly stormed the Mosul International airport on Thursday, (23 February) and took control of the runway, an official told the Associated Press news agency.

Counter-terrorism Service (CTS) unit and Rapid Response, an elite interior ministry unit entered the airport and the military base early on Thursday morning.

A spokesperson for CTS Sabah al Numan, told state TV: "Our forces started a major operation early this morning to storm the airport of Mosul and the Ghozlani base to dislodge Daesh (Islamic State) terrorists. We can confirm that the Mosul airport militarily has fallen and it's a matter of short time to fully control it."

The airport and the military complex, including barracks and training grounds, is spread out across an area close to the Mosul-Baghdad highway. The Islamic militants had captured the airport in June 2014.

The offensive to capture western Mosul was launched on Sunday, (19 February). The forces have been trying to take the airport and the military complex and use them as a support base to gain control of the western part of the city.

Iraqi security forces have made rapid progress since they launched the offensive in October 2016 and have cleared the jihadists from eastern Mosul.