Iraqi forces launched a fresh push on the Islamic state group in Mosul opening a northern front in their battle for the west side of the city.

The joint operations command coordinating the war against is said in a statement that forces from the army, the interior ministry and the police “began breaching the western side from the north.

It said the targets of the latest push were northwestern neighbourhoods on the edges of Mosul called Musharifah, Kanisah and Al-Haramat.

The federal police issued a statement confirming the fresh operation, which comes after a relative lull in fighting around the old city where most remaining jihadists are believed to be holed up.

It said Iraqi forces had already captured a small outlying village called Hsunah and a nearby gas factory in the renewed push.

Thursday’s operation opens a new front in the effort to wrest back West Mosul from is which started in mid-February and saw thousands of Iraqi forces retake most southern and western neighbourhoods.

An advance from the north will eventually leave the jihadists completely trapped in the narrow streets of the old city, albeit with a large civilian population they have been using as human shields.