Iraqi forces launch final assault on Daesh-held Mosul's Old City

Pauline Gross
June 20, 2017

Iraqi forces on Sunday began penetrating the narrow streets and warrens of Mosul's heavily populated Old City in the last phase of a monthslong operation against Islamic State militants, a battle that USA commanders have described as one of the toughest in urban warfare since World War II.

They told dpa that government forces blew up a militant vehicle bomb before it could hit federal police defences in the Old City's district of Bab al-Toub.

The Iraqi army, federal police and counter-terrorism troops launched the offensive on the Old City, said Brigadier Yahya Rasool spokesman for the Joint Operation Command.

Iraqi forces on Sunday began their offensive in the besieged Mosul city, the last enclave of the Islamic State in Iraq's most important city to fall into the hands of the terror group.

The offensive to retake the northern city started in October with air and ground support from a USA -led worldwide coalition.

Taking back the Old City, a densely populated warren of narrow alleyways on the western side of Mosul, is crucial to recapturing the whole of the former ISIL bastion.

The city had become a humanitarian problem as United Nations personnel fear that Islamic state fighters are using civilians as human shields.

But she said extensive planning and coordination with Iraq's military had allowed the humanitarian community "to stay just one little tiny step ahead" while it rushed to build new camps and find spaces in existing camps for families returning to already liberated eastern Mosul.

The Iraqi army thinks the number of ISIS fighters in the Old City doesn't exceed 300, down from almost 6,000 when the battle of Mosul started on October 17.

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The Daesh group captured Mosul when it swept across northern and central Iraq in the summer of 2014.

"We know that ISIS moved them with them as they left. locations where the fighting was going on", he told reporters in Geneva, using another acronym for IS.

Iraqi forces take a position on the roof of a building as they advance towards Mosul's Old City on June 18, 2017.

"These civilians are basically held as human shields in the Old City".

US-backed Iraqi troops have been battling to capture Mosul for nine months.

Two important caveats: First, "coalition" means primarily American soldiers and airmen-the USA military has been responsible for 95 percent of airstrikes in Syria and 68 percent in Iraq.

May 4: Iraqi forces launch a second front in northwestern Mosul to further seal the siege on the Old City, where IS has concentrated most of its resources.

With the support of USA advisers, the #Iraqi Army managed to drive out ISIS militants from major parts of the city and is now on the last leg of the Mosul offensive.

The militants are also retreating in Syria, mainly in the face of a US-backed Kurdish-led coalition.

Other reports by GizPress

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