Iraqi forces take strategic bridge as battle for Mosul 'nears end'

Elias Hubbard
March 18, 2017

Speaking on Tuesday, Prime Minster Haider al-Abadi said that the military operation aimed at liberating western Mosul was "in its last stage".

Government forcesreportedly killed the military commander of the Old City, Abu Abdul Rahman al-Ansary, during operations to clear Bab al-Tob district on Tuesday.

USA envoy Brett McGurk said on Sunday that the remaining western Mosul neighbourhoods held by ISIL were surrounded and the group had lost more than 60 percent of the territory it once held in Iraq.

CTS and the interior ministry's Rapid Response Division - a special forces unit operating with members of the federal police - are spearheading the advance in west Mosul.

Iraqi forces are now fighting ISIS in western Mosul after declaring the city's east "fully liberated" in January. The southernmost two have already been retaken.

"This will have unsafe repercussions on the post-Mosul phase.there will be anger by residents and Daesh will benefit from the large human losses", he added, using an Arabic acronym for Daesh.

Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January and launched the battle in the west on February 19.

Soldiers packed them into trucks on the Mosul-Baghdad highway to be taken to processing areas.

"Since the assault, first on east Mosul and then west Mosul began, we have seen just a remarkable change at Mosul, moving from tens of civilians reported killed every week or even every month, to hundreds reported killed every week now by coalition airstrikes", Airwars director Chris Woods told RT's Ruptly video agency.

More than 65,000 of them fled their homes over the past two weeks, the organisation said.

"Daesh wanted us to move to their areas but we escaped when the army arrived", he said.

More than 300,000 Mosul residents have been displaced since the start of the campaign in October.

"We are facing stiff resistance from Daesh fighters with snipers and mortars", an Iraqi official said.

The rights group said that the makeshift prisons were under the authority of the interior ministry intelligence service, which is interrogating people handed over by security forces fighting IS.

Muslim-majority Malaysia arrested more than 250 people between 2013 and 2016 over suspected militant activities linked to Islamic State.

Losing Mosul would be a major strike against Islamic State. It would break the militant group's hold on territory in Iraq and end its control over half the "caliphate", which once spanned from northern Syria through western Iraq.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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