Iraqi forces battling the Islamic State (IS) militants in Mosul say they have reached the eastern bank of the Tigris River, a major step in a U.S.-backed offensive to retake the city from IS.
Units of Iraq's elite Counterterrorism Service (CTS) have fought their way to the eastern bank of the Tigris, spokesman Sabah al-Numan said on January 8.
CTS forces already control the Tigris to Mosul’s south, but IS still controls the city's entire western half.
CTS forces also clashed with IS fighters near a historic site in eastern Mosul, Iraqi Army officer Abdelwahab al-Saadi said.
"This morning CTS troops advanced in two directions towards the Baladiyat and Sukkar districts," Saadi said on January 8.
The CTS is part of a 100,000-strong force backed by U.S. air power of Iraqi troops, Kurdish fighters, and Shi'ite militias fighting to drive IS out of Mosul.
The offensive to recapture Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, was launched on October 17.
Mosul is the last major urban center in Iraq still controlled by IS, which seized around a third of the country in 2014.
The Iraqi forces' advances in Mosul come as IS claimed responsibility for attacks on two Baghdad markets that killed at least 20 people.
A car-bomb blast killed 13 people and injured around 50 at a vegetable market in the Jamila district on January 8, police said.
Just hours later, seven people were killed and some 12 others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up at another market in the Baladiyat district, officials said.