March 23, 2017

Forces claim gains in battle for Mosul's Old City

21 March 2017, 12:42 | Darnell Patrick

Dima Nazim two-years-old is a victim of IS chemical attack receives treatment in a hospital in Irbil Iraq

Dima Nazim two-years-old is a victim of IS chemical attack receives treatment in a hospital in Irbil Iraq

Troops hoisted an Iraqi flag on top of the buildings in the Dawasa district and Lt Gen Abdul-Amir Raheed Yar Allah hailed the federal police as "heroes".

"They (IS militants) have two choices, either they surrender and we promise they will have fair trial and the other choice they will be killed", Abadi told reporters in Mosul as he was wearing the black uniform of the CTS forces.

An Iraqi commander says troops are moving toward the local government complex in Mosul's Islamic State-held western side amid the heaviest clashes since the start of the new push more than two weeks ago.

The consistent advance - more than two weeks since the new push started to clear Mosul's western side of ISIL militants - has been a major blow to the extremists who once controlled almost a third of Iraq.

Late in January, Abadi declared the liberation of the eastern side of Mosul, or the left bank of Tigris, after more than 100 days of fighting against IS militants.

They also seized control of the Al Hurriya bridgehead, it said, in a step towards potentially relinking west Mosul with the city's east, which government forces seized from ISIL earlier in the offensive.

Last week, the troops reached the first bridge from the south in western Mosul, known locally as the 4th Bridge.

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Government forces, backed with airstrikes and expertise from a USA -led coalition, have faced fierce resistance as militants have used hundreds of vehicle bombs, armed drones and roadside bombs to hold on to their de facto capital in Iraq.

Also on Sunday, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons said in a statement the group was "seriously concerned" about reports of chemical weapons use in Mosul. The footage also showed what it said were explosions from two suicide attacks carried out by Islamic State militants.

Unlike other heritage and archaeological sites in and around Mosul, ISIS couldn't destroy it as residents formed a human chain around it to protect it when ISIS came to blow it up.

The troops expect to encounter far more fleeing civilians once they enter deeper into the more densely populated part of the city.

"The number of people displaced from western Mosul now stands at 57,000, while the number of those displaced from the entire city has reached some 287,000", ministry spokesman Sattar Nowruz told Anadolu Agency.

According to the United Nations, some 750,000 civilians in western Mosul now face a serious humanitarian crisis. Isis overran almost a third of Iraq - including Mosul the country's second largest city - in the summer of 2014.

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