Iraqi government: IS downs army helicopter over Mosul

Iraqi forces, backed by a US-led coalition, have taken most districts of Mosul, ISIS's last major stronghold in Iraq and the city where the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared a caliphate almost three years ago.

ISIS has faced a string of defeats over the past two years - most recently in Mosul where Iraqi forces have been battling to drive the extremists out of the western part of the city, a more densely populated area.

It has controlled the city, Iraq's second-biggest, ever since, imposing its brutal brand of ultra conservative Islamic law on the city's pre-takeover population of more than a million.

Islamic State's Amaq news agency said seven suicide fighters attacked a police position and the home of the head of the city's counter-terrorism service, who was killed.

Iraqi forces captured the eastern side in January and in February launched a second phase to take the western side, with air and ground support from a USA -led coalition.

The incident happened during the operation to retake the city from IS militants, the ministry of defence said.

More people are expected to flee the fighting and camps for the displaced in the north and east of Mosul are expanding, the United Nations statement said. ISIS fighters shot down an Iraqi helicopter on Thursday, killing two pilots.

Isis' leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the formation of the group's self-declared "caliphate" from Mosul's historic al-Nuri mosque in 2014.

The Iraqi air force is conducting strikes against ISIS in Mosul in coordination with the US -led coalition air forces.

According to witnesses, eight people were killed when a warplane struck their house in al-Refai district in western Mosul.

The terror group branded the U.S. president an "idiot" in its first official remarks since the billionaire businessman took office.

"America, you have drowned and there is no saviour, and you have become prey for the soldiers of the caliphate in every part of the earth, you are bankrupt and the signs of your demise are evident to every eye", said the terror outfit's spokesman Abi al-Hassan al-Muhajer.

  • Jon Douglas