IRAQ MOSUL CONFLICT.jpg
An Iraqi soldier stands guard as an Iraqi volunteers from Mosul paint on a mural contain graphics and slogans written by Islamic state group (IS), Mosul, Iraq, 30 January 2017.
Photograph: EPA/STR

Iraqi forces have killed two would-be bombers from Islamic State and seized an arms cache in a crackdown on suspected militants in the government-held eastern section of the city of Mosul, a security official said Saturday.

The area was recently recaptured from the extremist militia as part of a months-long offensive to oust the extremists from Mosul, Iraq's second-biggest city.

"A force from the anti-terrorism service killed the two suicide bombers in a raid before they could target Iraqi troops in the area of Intisar [in eastern Mosul]," Brigadier Younes al-Sherifi, an official in the elite agency, said.

He told dpa that a large cache of arms, including a launch pad for firing rockets containing poison gases and explosives, was seized in another area in eastern Mosul.

"Iraqi forces have since the morning [Saturday] mounted a massive-scale campaign in the liberated districts after the bombings that took place in Mosul," al-Sherifi added.

On Friday, 16 people, including 10 civilians, were killed in three car bombings in different places in eastern Mosul, security and health officials said.

The attacks bear the hallmarks of Islamic State, which has previously claimed deadly car bombings in Iraq.

Eastern Mosul was retaken by Iraqi forces, backed by a US-led air power, from Islamic State last month.

Iraqi forces are bracing themselves for a new offensive aimed at wresting the western part of Mosul from Islamic State's control.

The Sunni extremist group seized large chunks of Iraq's territory, including Mosul, in a 2014 blitz.

Related stories

Car bombings in Baghdad, Mosul kill at least 21

Baghdad car bombing claimed by Islamic State kills 45

Iraq busts suspected Islamic State cell near Baghdad

Iraq's Shiite militias launch offensive west of Mosul

Iraqi forces retake Mosul university from Islamic State

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