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Mosul battle: Iraqi troops move into last ISIS stronghold in city

U.S.-backed Iraqi troops pushed into the last Islamic State stronghold in Mosul on Sunday, an Iraqi commander stated, formally launching the ultimate main battle of an eight-month marketing campaign to drive the militants from Iraq’s second largest city.

The IS group captured Mosul when it swept throughout northern and central Iraq in the summer season of 2014. Iraq launched an enormous operation to retake the city last October, and has pushed the militants from all however a handful of neighborhoods.

The extremists are anticipated to make their last stand in the Old City, a densely populated quarter with slim, winding alleys.

Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Rasheed Yar Allah, who instructions military operations in Ninevah province, stated Iraqi particular forces, the common military and Federal Police are collaborating in the operation to retake the Old City, which started Sunday at daybreak.

Iraq state TV aired reside footage displaying thick black smoke rising from the Old City, with the sound of gunfire rattling inside. It stated leaflets had been distributed urging civilians to depart by way of 5 “protected corridors.”

Gen. Abdel Ghani al-Asadi, the top of Iraq’s particular forces, instructed state TV he expects the extremists to place up a “vicious and hard battle.” Al-Asadi stated the troops “can be very cautious” to guard the civilians in the densely populated space.

The International Rescue Committee known as on Iraqi forces and the U.S.-led coalition to “do all the things in their energy to maintain civilians protected throughout these remaining phases of the battle for Mosul.”

“With its slim and winding streets, Iraqi forces can be much more reliant on airstrikes regardless of the problem in figuring out civilians sheltering in buildings and the elevated threat of civilians getting used as human shields by ISIS fighters,” stated Nora Love, the help group’s performing nation director, utilizing one other acronym for IS.

Love warned that the assault may result in much more civilian deaths than the a whole bunch killed up to now in airstrikes throughout the remainder of the city, as “the buildings of the outdated city are significantly weak to break down even when they are not instantly focused.”

Those who attempt fleeing to government-controlled areas threat being caught in the crossfire or focused by IS snipers, Love added.

The Old City is dwelling to the centuries-old al-Nuri mosque, the place IS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivered a Friday sermon in 2014 as his group declared an Islamic caliphate in the areas it managed in Syria and Iraq. The militants have misplaced a lot of that territory over the last three years, and Mosul is their last city bastion in Iraq.

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Up to 150,000 civilians are believed to be trapped in the Old City, the place the militants are utilizing them as human shields, U.N. humanitarian coordinator Lise Grande instructed The Associated Press on Friday. She stated circumstances are “determined,” with little meals and no clear water.

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