Iraqi forces seize more ground in Mosul's Old City

Though leaders say defeat of ISIS in the city is imminent, Iraqi forces have faced counterattacks through re-infiltration in once-cleared areas.

IS fighters blew up the 12th century mosque in the heart of the Old City last week, along with its landmark minaret, according to the USA -led coalition and the Iraqi Ministry of Defense - an act of destruction that the authorities in Baghdad interpreted as the militants' message of defeat in the face of the relentless Iraqi offensive.

On Thursday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Abadi said the announcement of Mosul's liberation from terrorist forces might be made within days.

'In a few days, our forces will reach Corniche and bring the battle to its conclusion, ' he added.

The US-led coalition of 69 members is conducting airstrikes, ground-based and rocket-propelled artillery fire against the Daesh in Syria and Iraq.

The army has captured two neighbourhoods northwest of the historic Grand al-Nuri Mosque, which was destroyed last week.

Iraqi authorities and officials from the US-led coalition purportedly fighting Daesh terrorists said the destruction of the site, sometimes referred to as Iraq's Tower of Pisa, is a sign of the extremists' imminent loss of Mosul.

Federal Police and elite CTS units in Mosul are attacking IS fighters in the Old City's maze of narrow alleyways, together with the army and the interior ministry's Emergency Response Division (ERD).

A United States-led worldwide coalition is providing air and ground support in the eight- month-old offensive.

The militants force women and children to cover them in the streets as they know that Iraqi security forces will not target civilians, he said. They are trying to slow the advance of Iraqi forces by laying booby traps and using suicide bombers and snipers.

An estimated 862,000 people have been displaced from Mosul ever since the battle to retake the city began nine months ago.

About 850,000 people, more than a third of Mosul's pre-war population, have fled, seeking refuge with relatives or in camps, according to aid groups. It has lost its fighting spirit and its balance. There has been no confirmation of Russian reports over the past days that he has been killed. The extremist group is using the civilians as human shields.

It launched a wave of such attacks late on Sunday, trying to take control of a district west of the Old City, Hay al-Tanak, and the nearby Yarmuk quarter.

  • Jon Douglas