Iraqi troops launch battle for last IS stronghold in Mosul

Posted June 19, 2017

In Mosul, U.S. -backed Iraqi forces have squeezed IS fighters into a small enclave in the Old City sector after a nine-month battle.

Iraq state TV aired live footage showing thick black smoke rising from the Old City and gunfire rattling from inside. The terrorists are expected to make their last stand in the Old City, a densely populated quarter with narrow, winding alleys.

"This will be a terrifying time for around 100,000 people still trapped in Mosul's Old City. now at risk of getting caught up in the fierce street fighting to come", the International Rescue Committee (IRC) said in a statement.

The Iraqi army, federal police and counter-terrorism troops launched the offensive on the Old City, said Brigadier Yahya Rasool spokesman for the Joint Operation Command. We know that Daesh moved them with them as they left. locations where the fighting was going on.

Bruno Geddo, the United Nations refugee agency's representative in Iraq, said ISIL had been capturing civilians and forcing them into the Old City.

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

The historic district is the last still under control of IS in the city, which used to be their capital in Iraq.

More news: Jimmie Johnson set to race into 2020 after inking new deal
More news: Congressmen offer prayers after colleague, officers injured in shooting
More news: Champions Chelsea perceive good omen in Burnley opener

But she said extensive planning and coordination with Iraq's military had allowed the humanitarian community "to stay just one little tiny step ahead" while it rushed to build new camps and find spaces in existing camps for families returning to already liberated eastern Mosul.

"They are besieged, they will fight to the death", said Master Sgt. Latif Omran, as he waited with his unit for a bulldozer to break down the barricades that mark the front line.

Al Jazeera's Smith said the push to clear the last part of Mosul would not be easy.

A high-ranking Islamic State figure in charge of intelligence in Mosul, Shakir Mahmud Hamad, was captured by the advancing troops in the Old City, Hashimi told Reuters.

Geddo further noted that Daesh snipers try to kill anyone trying to leave the militant-held Old City of Mosul, stressing that the small number of civilians who manage to escape are "deeply traumatized".

Hundreds of civilians were killed near the frontlines in the past three weeks while fleeing the Old City, as Iraqi forces could not fully secure exit corridors.

In Mosul, where a US -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.