MOSUL - Iraqi forces have met heavy resistance after launching an attack to recapture Mosul University from Islamic State (ISIS) military. Iraq officials say, elite troops entered the compound on Friday in an attempt to secure the area in the last major ISIS stronghold in Iraq.
It comes amid reports that Iraqi forces have reached a second bridge in the city. The latest phase of a push to retake Mosul was launched last month.
Friday's operation to capture the university, in the eastern part of the city, has seen government forces gain control of several buildings in the area, local media report.
The university complex used by ISIS militants as a base. Iraqi officials have also said that the group has used the site's chemistry laboratories to produce chemical weapons.
Meanwhile, the Iraqi military said in a statement that troops had reached al-Hurriya, or Freedom, Bridge, after inflicting "heavy losses" on ISIS militants.
Iraqi Special Operations Forces (ISOF) according to reports, taken the east sides of two of the five main bridges across the Tigris rive, after reaching the southernmost Fourth Bridge just days ago.
The bridges, which provide a link from Mosul's north and south, were targeted by coalition air strikes in October with the aim of limiting the ability of IS to resupply or reinforce their positions in the east.
The strikes caused sufficient damage to the bridges but they were purposely not destroyed in order for them to be repaired more easily after the city's recapture, analysts said.
Since the offensive to recapture Mosul was relaunched two weeks ago, government forces have made swift progress on the eastern side of the city. The campaign began in October but got off to a slow start in the face of tough ISIS defence and counter-attacks.