Iraqi Forces Make Gains as Fighting Continues in Mosul's Old City

Cheryl Sanders
March 10, 2017

Islamic State fighters are retreating further into the west of the city, military officials say, but are putting up stiff resistance, hiding among the civilian population and deploying auto bombs and snipers.

Islamic State fighters used vehicle bombs in the assault, Major General Ali Kadhem al-Lami of the Federal Police's Fifth Division told a Reuters correspondent near the site.

The government forces have already taken the main government building, the central bank branch and a museum under their control where ISIS militants once filmed themselves destroying priceless artefacts.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, who used to declare himself as a leader of all the Muslims and was considered to be one of the Islamic State leaders, has hidden in the Iraqi desert.

"I will not hesitate to strike the positions of the terrorists in the neighbouring countries".

Abadi on February 24 announced the first Iraqi air strike on Syrian territory, targeting Islamic State positions in retaliation for bomb attacks in Baghdad.

"A further 15 people have been referred from eastern Mosul city to hospitals in nearby Erbil for the treatment of skin burns, blistering and respiratory issues, which are symptoms consistent with exposure to a blistering chemical agent", he said.

"We couldn't go outside because of the IS fighters", said Manhal, a 28-year-old resident of Al-Danadan, a district now under Iraqi control. The fighting was very violent.

Their operation to retake the eastern bank of the city, launched in mid-October with support from a US -led coalition, took more than three months.

"The frontline is just beyond it", said Lieutenant Colonel Hammeed Habib of the Rapid Response forces.

"Berms and barriers were set up to protect (the) forces and they began search operations in Al-Dawasa and Al-Danadan and Al-Agaidat areas to find (IS) remnants to prepare for the completion of offensive operations", he said.

In Syria, IS has faced offensives by three rival forces.

And a US-backed alliance of Kurdish and Arab fighters has been advancing on Raqa. "There is still ISIS in the rest of the Euphrates river valley downstream that will have to be dealt with".

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