Iraqi forces storm IS-held Mosul

Kelly Massey
June 19, 2017

Iraqi forces began storming the ISIS-held Old City of Mosul on Sunday - an assault they hope will be the last in the eight-month campaign to seize the militants' stronghold.

State TV has aired live footage showing thick black smoke rising from the Old City and gunfire echoing from inside.

In the northern city of Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State group, a US -backed Syrian force entered new neighborhoods east and west of the city adding that they were able to free dozens of civilians who were trapped in the fighting. It said leaflets were distributed urging civilians to leave through five "safe corridors".

The incident took place in the embattled northern Iraq city of Mosul, which is on the verge of being freed from ISIS control.

But across the Tigris River, on Mosul's east bank, life went on nearly as usual as shoppers, students and workers pushed through traffic jams.

"The army, counter-terrorism forces and federal police launched an attack on the Old City", a statement said.

"The operation now is about street fighting, air and artillery strikes will be limited because the area is heavily populated and the buildings fragile", CTS spokesman Sabah al-Numan told al-Hadath TV in Dubai.

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United States forces have been based at Tanf since a year ago, in effect preventing Iranian-backed forces backing head of Syrian regime Bashar al-Assad from receiving heavy weaponry from Iran by using the main highway between Iraq and Syria.

"IS has been using them as human shields", Geddo added, "so that the Iraqi security forces and its coalition partners slow down combat, in order to avoid civilian casualties".

The mosque, with its famous leaning minaret, has become symbolic in the Iraqi military's fight against the militant group, after ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed a caliphate from the mosque in July 2014.

With virtually no food, water or electricity left in the area, the civilians are "living in an increasingly worsening situation of penury and panic", he said.

In Mosul, where a USA -backed offensive against Islamic State on Saturday entered its ninth month, the militants have been squeezed into an enclave on the western bank of the Tigris river.

The tiny lanes of the Old City make the terrain particularly challenging for Iraqi forces, which can't enter many areas with their armored vehicles.

However, this has been treated with scepticism given he has frequently been reported killed or wounded over the last three years.

Other reports by Guamnewswatch

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