Iraqi forces recapture 'over a third' of west Mosul

More than 200,000 Mosul residents have been displaced since October, when the campaign to retake ISIL's last urban stronghold in Iraq was launched.

Iraqi security forces recaptured control of more than a third of west Mosul from the Islamic State group since launching an assault on the area last month, a commander said on Sunday.

The JOC also said forces from the Rapid Response Division, another special forces unit, and the federal police were also attacking the Bab al-Toub area on the edge of Mosul's Old City.

The officer said he expected it would take less time to recapture the western half of the city than the east, which was cleared in January after 100 days of fighting.

CTS forces were battling IS inside the Mosul al-Jadida and Al-Aghawat areas in west Mosul on Sunday, said Saadi, adding that he expected the fighting there to be completed in the coming hours.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, announced the start of an offensive on February 19 to drive extremist militants out of the western side of Mosul, locally known as the right bank of Tigris River, which bisects the city.

Meanwhile, Iyad Rafed of the Iraqi Red Crescent Society said the Hammam al-Alil displacement camp - which accommodates up to 4,000 families in southeastern Mosul - is no longer able to receive any more refugees.

"Mosul's liberation is increasingly in sight albeit with increasingly hard fighting ahead", McGurk said, adding that Iraqi forces are retaking "some of the most hard ground that we knew would have to be reclaimed".

More than 65,000 fled their homes in the past two weeks alone, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

The Hashd al-Shaabi forces, an umbrella pro-Iraq group comprising Iran-backed Shia militias said that the remains found were of "civilian prisoners" who were "executed by (Isis) gangs after they controlled the prison during their occupation of Mosul".

Human Rights Watch said in a report that as many as 600 people were killed in the Badush prison massacre, which took place on the same day that Islamic State militants captured Mosul in June 2014.

Backed by US-led air strikes and other military support, Iraqi forces have since retaken much of the territory they lost.