Iraqi military takes runway at Mosul airport

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BAGHDAD (AP) — Iraqi police officials say the country’s militarized federal police forces have entered Mosul International Airport, taking over the runway amid fierce clashes with the Islamic State group.

Thursday’s advance is part of a major assault that started five days ago to drive IS militants from the western half of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.

Two police officers say the airport buildings are now under fire from the Iraqi police forces. They would not provide more details but said troops from the U.S.-led coalition are with the advancing forces, though they didn’t specify the nationalities of the foreign forces.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to talk to reporters.

The advances come days after Iraqi forces officially launched the operation to push IS out of Mosul’s western half.

The operation to retake Iraq’s second largest city was officially launched in October and in January its eastern half was declared “fully liberated.”

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