Published: Thu, June 29, 2017
Worldwide | By Sean Reid

Iraqi forces set sights on Old City riverside in Mosul

Iraqi forces set sights on Old City riverside in Mosul

The Iraqi forces backed by the US-led air campaign and supported by anti-ISIS armed groups have been able to recapture most of the land occupied by the extremist group.

On Thursday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi said the announcement of Mosul's liberation from terrorist forces might be made within days.

Iraqi forces had about 2,000ft left to cover before reaching the western bank of the Tigris, federal police commander Lt Gen Raed Shaker Jawdat said.

The Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19.

The CTS forces, federal police and the interior ministry's special forces, known as Rapid Response, have also been fighting inside the old city, but the troops are making slow progress due to the stiff resistance of IS militants and a large number of roadside bombs and booby-trapped buildings, in addition to IS snipers who took positions in the buildings and narrow alleys of heavily-populated neighborhoods.

A USA -led global coalition is providing air and ground support in the eight-month-old offensive.

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The military estimates up to 350 militants are dug in among civilians in wrecked houses and crumbling infrastructure. Hundreds of civilians fleeing the Old City have been killed in the past three weeks.

Iraqi troops on Monday captured the al-Faruq quarter, facing the mosque, the military said.

The Iraqi government had once hoped to take Mosul by the end of past year, but the fighting has dragged on as the militants reinforced positions in civilian areas, effectively using the residents as human shields. There has been no confirmation of Russian reports over the past days that he has been killed.

The US-trained Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Services (CTS), the Army's 16th Brigade, and the Federal police have cleared half of the old city, the War Media Cell stated on Wednesday night.

Aid organizations say Islamic State has stopped many civilians from leaving, using them as human shields.

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