Islamic State snipers, suicide bombers slow advance of government troops in Mosul
The advance of government troops slowed on Sunday in the last push to drive Islamic State group militants from remaining pockets of Mosul, two Iraqi military officers said.
Baghdad: The advance of government troops slowed on Sunday in the last push to drive Islamic State group militants from remaining pockets of Mosul, two Iraqi military officers said.
On Saturday, US-backed Iraqi forces began a new offensive to recapture the Old City from three directions. Hours after announcing the push, the government said two military officers were killed in clashes in the Shafaa neighbourhood on the Tigris River.
Islamic State militants have deployed snipers, suicide car bombers and suicide attackers on foot, the officers said. They described the advance on Mosul's Old City as "cautious" and the clashes on Sunday as "sporadic" without giving details on casualty figures from either side.
The troops captured Ibn Sina hospital, part of the sprawling medical complex in the Shafaa neighbourhood, the officers added. They spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
Mosul's wide-scale military operation was launched in October and its eastern half was declared liberated in January. The push for the city's west began in February.
The IS hold on Mosul has shrunk to just a handful of neighbourhoods in and around the Old City district where narrow streets and a dense civilian population are expected to complicate the fight there.
On Friday, Iraqi planes dropped leaflets over the area, encouraging the civilians to flee "immediately" to "safe passages" where they will be greeted by "guides, protectors and (transportation) to reach safe places," according to a government statement.
The United Nations estimated that as many as 2,00,000 people may try to leave in the coming days, while Save the Children warned that fleeing civilians could be caught in the crossfire, leading to "deadly chaos."
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Iraqi forces slowly advanced to retake the last patch of ground in Mosul where Islamic State militants are holding on to a tiny sliver of the Old City
Iraqi troops raid last Islamic State stronghold in Mosul; 819,000 people forced to flee due to fighting
Iraqi forces began their offensive in Mosul city, the last enclave of the Islamic State in Iraq's city to fall into the hands of the terror group.
Eight months since the start of the operation to retake Mosul, Islamic State has gone from controlling the city to a small pocket on the west of Tigris.