Middle East

Iraqi military says troops consolidate gains south of Mosul

  • A civilian kisses a federal police officer after escaping Islamic State territory in the town of Abu Saif, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017.  Iraqi forces advanced into the southern outskirts of Mosul in a push to drive Islamic State militants from the city's western half, as the visiting U.S. defense secretary met with officials to discuss the fight against the extremists.(AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

    A civilian kisses a federal police officer after escaping Islamic State territory in the town of Abu Saif, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017. Iraqi forces advanced into the southern outskirts of Mosul in a push to drive Islamic State militants from the city's western half, as the visiting U.S. defense secretary met with officials to discuss the fight against the extremists.(AP Photo/Bram Janssen)  (The Associated Press)

  • A civilian who escaped Islamic State territory phones his family he left behind, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017 in Abu Saif, Iraq. Iraqi forces advanced into the southern outskirts of Mosul in a push to drive Islamic State militants from the city's western half.(AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

    A civilian who escaped Islamic State territory phones his family he left behind, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017 in Abu Saif, Iraq. Iraqi forces advanced into the southern outskirts of Mosul in a push to drive Islamic State militants from the city's western half.(AP Photo/Bram Janssen)  (The Associated Press)

  • A civilian who escaped Islamic State militant territory phones his family he left behind, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017 in Abu Saif, Iraq. Iraqi forces advanced Monday into the southern outskirts of Mosul on the second day of a push to drive Islamic State militants from the city's western half, as the visiting U.S. defense secretary met with officials to discuss the fight against the extremists. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)

    A civilian who escaped Islamic State militant territory phones his family he left behind, Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2017 in Abu Saif, Iraq. Iraqi forces advanced Monday into the southern outskirts of Mosul on the second day of a push to drive Islamic State militants from the city's western half, as the visiting U.S. defense secretary met with officials to discuss the fight against the extremists. (AP Photo/Bram Janssen)  (The Associated Press)

A military spokesman says Iraqi forces are consolidating their gains south of Mosul ahead of moving deeper into the city's Islamic State-held western half.

The spokesman of the Joint Military Operation Command, Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that nearly 123 square kilometers — about 47 square miles — have been taken south of Mosul since the new push started on Sunday.

Rasool wouldn't say when the next move into the city would start.

He says the troops now fully control the hill of Abu Saif overlooking the Mosul airport as well as the Hamam al-Alil intersection on the main highway into the city.

The battle for Mosul, backed by the U.S.-led coalition, has already driven the militants from the eastern half of the city.