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Iraqi forces engage in house-to-house fighting in Mosul's old city

14:55, Tuesday, 25 April, 2017
Iraqi forces engage in house-to-house fighting in Mosul's old city

Iraqi forces engaged in house-to-house fighting in the Old City of Mosul on Sunday (April 23) and Monday (April 24) as the U.S.-backed offensive to capture Islamic State's (ISIS) de facto capital in Iraq entered its seventh month.

Iraqi forces have taken much of Mosul from the militants who overran the city in June 2014, with the military now controlling the eastern districts and making advances in the west.

ISIS fighters, holding out in the Old City, are surrounded in the northwest and are using booby traps, sniper and mortar fire to defend themselves.

Thick smoke billowed from buildings near the famed Grand al-Nuri Mosque, from where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a "caliphate" spanning parts of Iraq and Syria. Iraqi troops have had the centuries-old mosque in their sights since last month and a police spokesman said combined forces were closing in on the symbolic target.

A federal police officer on Sunday said engineers were clearing the area of explosives to enable trapped civilians to leave.

Their progress has been slow as about 400,000 civilians remain trapped in the Old City, according to the United Nations.

A Reuters video showed some civilians that had managed to escape to Iraqi army frontlines where one unidentified police officer can be heard saying “Thank God for your safety” as he greets them.

Iraqi forces have now taken much of Mosul from the militants who overran the city in June 2014. The military now controls the eastern districts and are making advances in the west.

ISIS fighters, holding out in the Old City, are surrounded in the northwest and are using booby traps, sniper and mortar fire to defend themselves.

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