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Iraq forces push deeper into Mosul Old City

AFP/Mosul
Filed on June 19, 2017 | Last updated on June 19, 2017 at 09.11 pm
Iraq forces push deeper into Mosul Old City
Members of the Iraqi army drop leaflets over the Old City of Mosul on Sunday.

(Reuters)

A top commander, said that heavy fighting had resumed at dawn on Monday.

Iraqi forces pushed deeper into Mosul's Old City on Monday after launching a final assault on Daesh, warning civilians to stay inside and telling jihadists to "surrender or die".

Iraqi forces launched the operation on Sunday to retake the district, the last part of Iraq's second city still held by Daesh after a months-long offensive.

Commanders said the jihadists are putting up fierce resistance and there are fears for more than 100,000 civilians believed to be trapped in the maze of narrow streets.

Staff Major General Maan Al Saadi, a top commander in Iraq's elite Counter-Terrorism Service, said that heavy fighting had resumed at dawn on Monday.

"At 6am we pushed deeper into the Old City and took control of new areas in the Faruq neighbourhood," he said.

"Daesh resistance has been fierce," he said.

"They have blocked every entrance, planted IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and booby trapped houses our forces might be near," he said.

"Penetrating was very difficult. Today the fighting is face to face."

The push into Mosul's historic heart on the west bank of the river Tigris marks the culmination of a months-long campaign by Iraqi forces to retake Daesh's last major urban stronghold in the country.

The US-led coalition battling Daesh in Iraq and neighbouring Syria has backed the offensive, including with months of air strikes. The loss of Mosul would mark the effective end of the Iraqi portion of the cross-border "caliphate" Daesh declared in summer 2014 after seizing swathes of Iraq and Syria.

Iraqi forces stationed Humvees by the Grand Mosque on the retaken east side of Mosul, facing the Old City and mounted with speakers. The loudspeakers blared messages to Daesh fighters, telling them: "You have only this choice: surrender or die".

Messages were also broadcast to civilians in the Old City saying Iraqi forces "are about to end your suffering". - AFP


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