Iraqi forces launch assault on Mosul Old City

Iraqi forces launch assault on Mosul Old City

He added that ISIL Takfiris are putting up fierce resistance in the wake of the Iraqi army's territorial gains.

Lt. Col. Al-Khazali told NBC News that the police had advanced through the Old City from the south in order to recapture the mosque.

"Our forces have moved in on foot because the alleys are very narrow", he said. "Today the fighting is face to face".

USA airstrikes have killed several commanders of the group over the past two years, including Abu Omar al-Shishani, a top military commander, chief propagandist Abu Mohammed al-Adani, and Abu Ali al-Anbari, the former top civilian administrator.

The loss of Mosul would mark the effective end of the Iraqi portion of the cross-border "caliphate" that IS declared in summer 2014 after seizing swathes of Iraq and Syria.

"They are surrounded by fighting on every side".

On Sunday, almost 500.000 flyers, controlled by commander Rashid Yarallah, were directed towards the Iraqi metropolis.

"More than 100,000 civilians may still be held in the Old City", Geddo told reporters in Geneva.

The French journalists, work for France 2 TV, the Kurdistan24.net newsite reported.

"Penetrating was very hard".

The loudspeakers have been blaring messages to civilians, saying Iraqi forces "are about to end your suffering".

Iraqi Counter-Terrorism Services (CTS) secure a street near the old city in west Mosul on June 3, 2017, during their ongoing battle to retake the city from ISIS.

"The operation now is about street fighting". The Trump administration has been accused of ignoring the hundreds of men, women and children killed in recent months, with Defense Secretary James Mattis recently stating that more innocent people will die, and dismissing civilian casualties as "a fact of life".

"They help us a lot".

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"Why didn't they come sooner?" she said. "They have nowhere to flee". Around 195,000 have since returned, mainly to the city's east.

As the sun rose, a massive barrage shrouded parts of the Old City in smoke.

The US-backed Iraqi forces have been combatting ISIS in Mosul for almost eight months, in a campaign considered to be the largest against the radical group in Iraq.

Shortly after the offensive began, at least 13 civilians were killed in an air bombardment and shelling that targeted Islamic State facilities in the Old City, security sources and local residents said.

The historic district of winding alleyways is the last pocket of Mosul under jihadist control - but the fight to free the city, once the jewel in the so-called caliphate's crown, has been long and bloody.

Iraqi forces have opened what they hope will be the final assault to retake Mosul, pushing into the the crowded, narrow lanes of the area still occupied by ISIS.

On Sunday, the International Rescue Committee, an aid group, warned that this would be "a terrifying time" for civilians trapped inside the Old City.

The militants are moving house to house through holes knocked in inner walls to avoid air surveillance, said Maj.

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

About 100,000 civilians are trapped, with little food, water or medical treatment.

Displaced Iraqis arrive at a temporary camp at the compound of the closed Nineveh International Hotel in Mosul which was recovered by Iraqi troops from Daesh group fighters earlier in the year.

Iraqi forces on the ground are being supported by the US -led coalition as well as Iraqi war planes, Brigadier Rasool said.

ISIS is also using suicide vehicle and motorcycle bombs, booby traps, and sniper and mortar fire against the troops.

Up to 150,000 civilians are believed to be trapped in the Old City, where the militants are using them as human shields, United Nations humanitarian co-ordinator Lise Grande has said.

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