Middle East

Iraq commander: Troops approach Mosul government complex

  • An Iraqi Army soldier helps displaced civilians as they flee their homes due to fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants, on the western side of Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, Feb. 28. 2017. Since Iraqi government forces launched the push to take the western half of Mosul from the Islamic State group last week, about 8,000 people have fled from that part of the city and surrounding villages, the U.N. humanitarian aid agency said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mohammed Saad)

    An Iraqi Army soldier helps displaced civilians as they flee their homes due to fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants, on the western side of Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, Feb. 28. 2017. Since Iraqi government forces launched the push to take the western half of Mosul from the Islamic State group last week, about 8,000 people have fled from that part of the city and surrounding villages, the U.N. humanitarian aid agency said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mohammed Saad)  (The Associated Press)

  • An Iraqi Army soldier distributes candies to displaced children as they flee their homes due to fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants, on the western side of Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, Feb. 28. 2017. Since Iraqi government forces launched the push to take the western half of Mosul from the Islamic State group last week, about 8,000 people have fled from that part of the city and surrounding villages, the U.N. humanitarian aid agency said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mohammed Saad)

    An Iraqi Army soldier distributes candies to displaced children as they flee their homes due to fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants, on the western side of Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, Feb. 28. 2017. Since Iraqi government forces launched the push to take the western half of Mosul from the Islamic State group last week, about 8,000 people have fled from that part of the city and surrounding villages, the U.N. humanitarian aid agency said Tuesday. (AP Photo/Mohammed Saad)  (The Associated Press)

  • An Iraqi soldier, injured during fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants waits to be taken to a hospital after receiving first aid in a field clinic on the western side of Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, Feb. 28. 2017. Iraqi special forces moved into western Mosul's Shuhada neighborhood amid fierce clashes with IS militants as federal police units continued clearing up Gawsaq, a neighborhood retaken on Monday from IS, according to special forces and police officers. (AP Photo/Mohammed Numan)

    An Iraqi soldier, injured during fighting between Iraqi security forces and Islamic State militants waits to be taken to a hospital after receiving first aid in a field clinic on the western side of Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, Feb. 28. 2017. Iraqi special forces moved into western Mosul's Shuhada neighborhood amid fierce clashes with IS militants as federal police units continued clearing up Gawsaq, a neighborhood retaken on Monday from IS, according to special forces and police officers. (AP Photo/Mohammed Numan)  (The Associated Press)

An Iraqi commander says troops are approaching Mosul's main government complex in the city's western half as they continue to battle the Islamic State group.

Maj. Gen Thamir al-Hussaini, commander of the Federal Police Rapid Response Force, said Wednesday that his forces are about 800 meters from the complex of the government buildings. Retaking the complex would be a largely symbolic victory for Iraqi forces in their latest push to drive IS from western Mosul.

Al-Hussaini said the troops advanced along the Tigris River after retaking the edge of a destroyed bridge spanning the river. He described capturing the bridge as "strategically important" military gain as it will help shorten supply lines and could potentially allow civilians currently trapped in western Mosul to flee to its government-controlled eastern side.