Iraqi security forces have launched an attack on Mosul Airport, a key part of the government’s offensive to drive so-called Islamic State militants from the western half of the city. According to associated press military police have entered the airport and taken over the runway amid fierce clashes with IS militants.

They also stormed the nearby Al-Ghazlani military camp, where clashes were also taking place. Eastern Mosul was retaken last month. The airport’s runway had already been destroyed by is, but BBC Middle East correspondent Quentin Sommerville, who is embedded with Iraqi Federal Police units, says it still has value.

It’s a large piece of land, and controlling it will help secure Southern Routes to West Mosul, our correspondent says. A military spokesman told Iraqia Tv that simultaneous raids were being carried out on the Airport and Al-Ghazlani base to “Distract” IS.