TEHRAN (Press Shia Agency) – Iraqi forces have retaken around two thirds of the eastern half of Mosul from ISIS (also Daesh) since the start of an offensive in mid-October, a top commander said.

"From east Mosul… more than 60 percent" has been retaken from Daesh, Staff Lieutenant General Abdulwahab al-Saadi, a top commander in Iraq's Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS), told AFP on Sunday.

He was speaking from his headquarters northeast of Mosul, where Daesh proclaimed a "caliphate" in June 2014 after seizing the city.

Iraq's elite CTS forces are the best-equipped, best-trained and most seasoned forces in the country but the going has been tough since Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the beginning of an operation to retake Mosul on Oct. 17 last year.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians remain inside Iraq's second city, forcing Iraqi and allied forces to take precautions and slowing their advance.

CTS and other forces more recently deployed inside the city have been moving house-to-house, dodging sniper fire, suicide car bombs and booby traps to retake one neighborhood after another.