Displaced Iraqi families who fled from clashes during a battle between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants, walk with their children, in the city of Mosul, Iraq March 15, 2017. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
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Iraqi government forces battling Daesh (ISIS) for Mosul took control of a main bridge over the Tigris River Wednesday and advanced toward the mosque where the group's leader declared a caliphate in 2014, federal police said.The seizure of the Iron Bridge, linking eastern Mosul with the militant-held Old City on the west side, means the government holds three of the five bridges over the Tigris and bolsters Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's assertion that the battle is reaching its final stages.Many hard days of fighting could still lie ahead as government forces try to make headway in the streets and narrow alleyways of the Old City.The intense combat marked a decisive stage in the battle for Mosul that started on Oct. 17 last year, and in the wider struggle against Daesh.In neighboring Syria, three separate forces are advancing on the city of Raqqa, the main Syrian city under Daesh control.Police commander Younes Jabouri said troops were moving forward but it was not easy because of the weather.
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