Published: Wed, April 19, 2017
Global Media | By Abel Hampton

This New Bridge Becomes Ray Of Hope For People Fleeing Mosul

This New Bridge Becomes Ray Of Hope For People Fleeing Mosul

Iraqi forces forced Islamic State out of the eastern side of the city in January.

The offensive is part of a wider campaign launched last October to retake the entire city, which ISIL overran - along with much of northern and western Iraq - in mid-2014.

This comes as the Iraqi army and security forces continued to close in on Western Mosul, the final stronghold of ISIS in Iraq's second largest city.

The Iraqi forces' progress has been slow as about 400,000 civilians, or a quarter of Mosul's pre-war population, are trapped in the Old City, according to the United Nations.

An Iraqi woman carries a girl as she walks along a pontoon bridge over the Tigris river on the outskirts of Hammam al-Alil, south of Mosul, Iraq, April 17, 2017.

Earlier this year, Al Qaeda's leader repeated criticism of the Islamic State's violent attacks, such as beheadings of civilians.

However, a military spokesperson of government forces has claimed that they have gained some fresh ground.

Since the start of military operations to retake Mosul six months ago, almost half a million people have been displaced from their homes.

Aircraft, helicopter and artillery opened fire, while gunfire could also be heard at several positions of Iraq's federal police near the Old City.

"They (Islamic State militants) carry out attacks on our defensive lines, but each time we repel them and they run away, leaving bodies of their dead fighters behind", Lieutenant Colonel Hussein Lazim Zghayer said of the force's 9th division.

Allawi said the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and the head of Al Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, are not communicating with each other directly but through intermediaries.

It is unclear how the two groups would work together, Allawi said.

While officials are claiming some small gains near the ancient al-Nuri Mosque, the situation is largely unchanged in the past month, with intense, door-to-door fighting providing little opportunity for noticeable territory to change hands, and weeks often going by on the same couple of city blocks.

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