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Published: Tue, March 14, 2017
Research | By Jennifer Evans

Over 100000 civilians flee homes in western Mosul in clashes against IS

Over 100000 civilians flee homes in western Mosul in clashes against IS

ISIS "is trapped. Just last night, the 9th Iraqi army division. cut off the last road out of Mosul", said Brett McGurk, the US envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition, according to the Agence French-Presse.

Iraqi forces said they are in control of at least 10 of western Mosul's districts and are closing in on the Noor mosque, where Baghdadi is believed to have delivered a sermon in which he declared the Islamic State caliphate.

Federal police and Rapid Response units said they entered the Bab al-Tob area of the Old City, amd expected tough fighting due to the alleyways being too narrow for armored vehicles.

Inside the city troops battled the ultra-hardline Sunni Muslim terrorists, who hid among the remaining civilian population and deployed snipers and suicide auto bombs to defend their last major Iraq stronghold.

"It was street-by-street and now it's house-by-house", Iraqi commando Alaa Shaker, a member of the elite Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), told Reuters.

Jonah's mosque was blown up in July 2014, but experts surveying the damage after it was recaptured in January by a US -backed Iraqi campaign found a network of tunnels dug by the militants, leading down to a 7th century BC Assyrian palace.

Mosul has been a vital stronghold for ISIS since it took control in June 2014.

Iraqi forces were facing difficulty in storming the Bab al-Tob area of the Old City, where the fight is expected to be tough due to its narrow alleyways through which armored vehicles can not pass.

Numerous mass graves date back to ISIS's initial occupation of territory in Iraq near major cities like Tikrit, Sinjar, and Mosul.

More than 200,000 Mosul residents have been displaced since the start of the campaign in October, of which more than 65,000 fled their homes in the past two weeks alone, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

Iraqi troops fire artillery towards Islamic State (IS) jihadists' positions in west Mosul.

The grave reportedly contains the remains of hundreds of people executed by the Islamic State group.

The troops dislodged terrorists from several neighbourhoods in the southern part of Mosul's western side, including the main government buildings in the old city centre.

Iraqi forces have now reclaimed around 30 per cent of west Mosul. Iraqi forces include army, special forces, Kurdish Peshmerga, and Shia militias.

Washington had spent billions of dollars training and equipping Iraqi forces prior to its military withdrawal in 2011, but that effort did not translate into long-term competence, with Baghdad's forces performing dismally in the early days of the 2014 ISIS offensive.

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