Battle Against ISIS in Mosul: Iraqi Forces Storm Old City

Jay Jacobs
June 19, 2017

The commander of Nineveh Liberation Operation, General Abdul Amir Rashid Yarallah, in a short statement on Sunday, announced that the Iraqi armed forces have entered the Old City in Western Mosul - the ISIS terrorists' last stronghold.

Iraq state TV aired live footage showing thick black smoke rising from the Old City, with the sound of gunfire rattling inside.

"This will be a terrifying time for around 100,000 people still trapped in Mosul's old city and now at risk of being caught up in fierce street fighting to come", Nora Love, acting Iraq director of the International Rescue Committee, said in a statement. It said leaflets were distributed urging civilians to leave through five "safe corridors".

The area is home to the Al-Nuri Mosque, an iconic spot for the Islamic State, as it was the site where group leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed in June 2014 the caliphate he imposed on territories that the group had conquered in Iraq and Syria.

Staff Lieutenant General Abdulwahab al-Saadi, a senior commander with the Counter-Terrorism Service, confirmed the "start of the assault on the Old City".

"These civilians are basically held as human shields in the Old City", the presiding UNHCR representative in Iraq, Bruno Geddo, told reporters in the Swiss city of Geneva.

Iraqi forces members, consisting of the Iraqi federal police and the elite Rapid Response Division, patrol in the Shifa neighborhood, in western Mosul, on June 17, 2017, where they are battling the last members of the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group in the city.

Iran's Revolutionary Guard says hit Syria for Tehran attacks
The guard says a "large number of terrorists were killed and weapons destroyed" in the strikes on Deir Ezzor province. The Revolutionary Guards are fighting in Syria against militant groups who oppose President Bashar al-Assad.

Iraqi forces on the ground are being supported by the US -led coalition as well as Iraqi war planes, Brigadier Rasool said.

With virtually no food, water or electricity left in the area, the civilians are "living in an increasingly worsening situation of penury and panic", he said.

"The buildings of the old town are particularly vulnerable to collapse even if they aren't directly targeted, which could lead to even more civilian deaths than the hundreds killed so far in airstrikes across the rest of the city", the IRC said.

Now, Raqqa is encircled - and after eight months of fighting, Iraqi forces are close to wresting back control of Mosul.

However, this has been treated with scepticism given he has frequently been reported killed or wounded over the last three years.

In Syria, the US -backed Syrian Democratic Forces, made up predominantly of Kurdish fighters, have seized territory to the north, east and west of Raqqa, Islamic State's Syrian bastion.

Other reports by TheDailyFarc

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