As Iraqi ground troops pushed into western Mosul on Friday, the country’s air force struck Islamic State group targets inside Syria for the first time in response to recent bombings in Baghdad claimed by the militants.

Meanwhile, at least 60 people were killed in IS attacks close to a key northern Syrian town captured only a day earlier from the extremists by Turkish forces and their Syrian opposition allies.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the Iraqi airstrikes in Syria in a statement, saying the border Supertotobet towns of Boukamal and Husseibah had been targeted in response to recent bombings in Baghdad linked to Islamic State group operations there.

Iraqi forces closely supported by the U.S.-led international coalition pushed into the very first neighborhood of western Mosul and took complete manage of the city’s international airport and a sprawling military base on the southwestern edge of the city, according to Iraqi officials.

The territorial gains were the most significant yet in the battle, now in its sixth day, to rout IS militants from the western half of Iraq’s second-largest city.

As Iraqi warplanes struck IS targets across the border, militants in northern Syria staged a suicide car bomb attack outside a safety workplace operated by the Syrian opposition in a village five miles (eight kilometers) north of al-Bab, killing at least 60 folks. The town had been controlled by IS since late 2013, but the militants finally retreated Thursday right after extra than two months of intense fighting.

Most of those killed in the village of Sousian had been civilians awaiting permits and an escort to return to al-Bab, a Syrian military commander in the city told The Associated Press. At least six fighters had been amongst those killed in the attack, according to Turkey’s prime minister, who spoke in Ankara.

Hours immediately after the initially explosion in Sousian, an additional car or truck bomb attack was reported in the village, killing at least eight persons, according to activist groups. There had been no further specifics on the attack, and the Aleppo Media Center later took down the report.

An extra explosion was reported south of al-Bab, where two Turkish soldiers have been killed when an explosive device went off as they have been removing land mines, Turkey’s military stated. The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights corroborated the report, saying the explosives detonated close to Tadif, an IS-controlled town south of al-Bab. Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, on the other hand, referred to as the explosion a “suicide attack.” It was not instantly feasible to reconcile the accounts.

In Mosul, meanwhile, Iraqi forces pushed into the Mamun neighborhood and engaged in intense clashes with IS militants, according to an Iraqi particular forces officer on the ground, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Federal police Maj. Gen. Haider al-Maturi said his forces pushed through concrete roadblocks and earthen berms set up by the Islamic State group, and succeeded in capturing about 30 percent of the Aviation District, the first district entering Mosul’s western perimeter from the south.

“There had been fierce clashes. We faced vehicle bombs, suicide attackers and mortar shelling,” al-Maturi stated. “The battle ahead will be challenging and difficult for the reason that of the civilians around. It’ll be street fights.”

Al-Maturi stated six Iraqi troops were wounded, such as two officers. On the other hand, an AP group close to the front line saw at least 4 wounded specific forces’ members and the bodies of 3 soldiers, suggesting a lot more intense fighting than the previous day. A Canadian medic volunteering at a front-line clinic mentioned he had treated at least 10 wounded federal policemen. Iraq’s military does not release official casualty figures.

Earlier on Friday, the spokesman of the Joint Military Operation Command, Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, stated Iraqi forces had also retaken the military base adjacent to the airport.

The advances came a day just after special forces joined the fight for western Mosul.

Both the Ghazlani military base and the airport will be crucial to the next steps in the daunting battle and will serve as a base of operations as Iraqi forces launch subsequent pushes into western Mosul, which is divided by the Tigris River into two halves.

Iraqi authorities declared the city’s eastern half “fully liberated” from the Sunni militants in January, 3 months right after launching the operation to take back Mosul.

The United Nations estimates about 750,000 civilians are trapped in western Mosul. The initial numbers of displaced have been low, but Iraqi forces have however to punch into the sector’s dense urban neighborhoods, an operation that is expected to be the most difficult yet. The western half of the city is denser, with older neighborhoods and narrower streets that will likely complicate the already tough urban combat ahead.


Abdul-Zahra reported from Baghdad and El Deeb reported from Beirut.

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