Iraqi Forces Making New Push toward Old City in Mosul

News ID: 1381013 Service: World
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TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iraqi forces launched a new attack on Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) in Mosul's Old City Sunday, military officials said, trying to break the stalemate in attempts to seize the militants' last stronghold in the Arab country.

Mosul, Iraq's second biggest city, was captured by Daesh in 2014, but government forces have retaken much of it during a six-month operation.

The advance has hardly moved for more than a month, though, as the Takfiri militants are holding out in the densely populated Old City in western Mosul, where tanks and heavy vehicles are not able to operate because of its narrow streets.

Iraq's federal police moved forces 200 meters deeper into the Old City, getting closer to al-Nuri mosque, a statement said, Reuters reported.

The mosque is highly symbolic because it was there that Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared himself head of a self-proclaimed caliphate.

Troops have had the centuries-old mosque with its leaning minaret in their sights since last month.

A captain in the federal police said Sunday's advance had started in the early morning with troops fighting the terrorists house to house.

"Daesh suicide motorcycles now are their favorite weapon inside the Old City," he said. "We have to watch every single house to avoid attackers on motorcycles packed with explosives."

Iraqi government forces have cleared the east and half of western Mosul and are now focused on the Old City.

Some 400,000 people are trapped in the Old City while more than 300,000 have fled fighting since the operation started in October, officials have said.

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