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Published: Sun, January 01, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Coalition Air Strike May Have Hit Civilians in Mosul, Military Says

Coalition Air Strike May Have Hit Civilians in Mosul, Military Says

"Now our forces clashed with the enemy and there is resistance", he said, adding that forces on the northern and southern fronts were also advancing.

The army is backed by the US.

One elite Iraqi unit encountered sniper and machine gunfire as it advanced alongside federal police in Mosul's Intisar district, an officer said. Gen. Najim Jabouri, Iraqi army commander of the offensive, reached by phone where he was overseeing troops in a northern Mosul neighborhood. When government forces liberate an area, most civilians act quickly to try to evacuate.

The military has not entered the city's western side, whose built-up markets and narrow alleyways dating back more than two millennia will likely complicate advances. Coalition air support has been key for Iraqi advancement on the ground.

About one million civilians are known to be inside Mosul, preventing the Iraqi military and their allies in the USA -led coalition from using overwhelming firepower.

The Iraqi government does not release casualty figures and has restricted access to the front lines for journalists in recent weeks, but attrition rates have been high, according to soldiers and commanders.

Another coalition statement said an airstrike Thursday that targeted a van used by ISIS fighters was later determined to have been located at a hospital's parking lot, "resulting in possible civilian casualties".

"The enemy is now isolated inside the left (eastern) bank of Mosul", military spokesman Yahia Rassol said on state TV.

Mosul, now the last Iraqi city in which IS still holds significant territory, is split by the Tigris River, with the east side referred to as the left bank and the west as the right. Majority are now in displacement camps in the neighboring, self-ruled Kurdish region and south of Mosul. Iraqi forces searched the civilians and let them continue to a nearby village.

In eat meantime, Iraqi troops backed by the US-led coalition's airstrikes and artillery pushed deeper into eastern Mosul in a multi-pronged assault against ISIS militants in the city.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who previously pledged to retake Mosul by the end of the year, said this week it would take another three months to rout Islamic State in Iraq.

The offensive has been slowed by the concern to avoid civilian casualties, many of whom chose to stay in their homes despite food and water shortages. More than 114,00 have been displaced so far, according to the United Nations.

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