Iraqi forces edge further into Mosul

Iraqi forces said they had seized ground inside Mosul’s Old City, a district expected to see some of the fiercest clashes in the battle for the militant stronghold. An operation began on February 19 to retake Mosul’s west, the last major Islamic State group urban bastion in the country, which includes the Old City. Iraqi forces have since retaken several neighbourhoods despite bad weather that has hampered air support.
But as they close in on the ancient central district they face particular difficulties. Hundreds of thousands of civilians are believed to be trapped under IS rule in the warren of densely populated, narrow streets which restrict the use of large armoured vehicles. Federal police commander Lieutenant General Raed Shakir Jawdat said yesterday that Iraqi forces backed by artillery and drones had advanced in the district. “Federal police and Rapid Response units imposed their complete control over the Al-Basha Mosque…and the Bab al-Saray market in the Old City,” he said. The two sites lie on the edge of the district in the heart of Mosul, next to the Tigris river that slices the city in two.
Further west, forces from the elite Counter-Terrorism Service have pushed into the Al-Rissala and Nablus quarters, senior commander Staff Lieutenant General Abdulghani al-Assadi said. “The situation is good,” he said. The fall of Mosul, Iraq’s second city, would be a major setback for IS following months of losses in Iraq and neighbouring Syria. Mosul has huge symbolic significance for the group: it was from the Old City’s Al-Nouri mosque that its secretive chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the establishment of his “caliphate” in July 2014. Iraqi forces backed by an international US-led coalition launched a vast, long-awaited operation in October to oust the militants from Mosul, completing their recapture of the east in January.
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Iraq forces fight muddy street battle against IS in Mosul

ISIL fighters have launched several fierce counterattacks against Iraqi forces on the eastern outskirts of Mosul city, underscoring the intense battle ahead as government troops and their allies push into densely populated neighbourhoods. An ISIL suicide car bomber targeted Iraqi troops in the city’s eastern Qadisiya neighbourhood early on Saturday, setting off heavy fighting that involved mortar rounds, gunfire, and rocket-propelled grenades. Iraqi officers told the AFP news agency that fighting was also under way in the adjoining Arbajiya area. “The fighting is intense this morning. We’re trying to fortify our positions in Arbajiya before continuing our attack into al-Bakr,” Colonel Muntadhar Salem, of the counterterrorism unit, said.

Iraqi forces advance deeper into Mosul

U.S.-backed Iraqi forces push further into the Islamic State-held western half of Mosul, capturing a damaged bridge which could link up their units on either side of the Tigris river.  

Thousands of displaced Iraqis face winter in camps

Since the start of the Iraqi military operation to retake Mosul in October last year, more than 144,500 people have been displaced and a majority of them are in desperate need of live-saving humanitarian assistance, the United Nations migration agency has warned. “Humanitarian aid is essential for the survival of the thousands of families displaced by Mosul operations who have left everything behind to save their own lives,” said Thomas Lothar Weiss, the Chief of the UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) operations in Iraq. “Assistance must provide for a range of needs – including shelter, household items, health and livelihoods,” he added, underlining the need for additional funding to sustain relief efforts and to prepare for further displacement from the ongoing crisis.
 

The fight for Mosul : One month on

Iraqi forces push out Islamic State block by block in eastern Mosul, engaging in clashes as they pass residents’ doorsteps.

The street-to-street battles for Mosul

More than 2,000 Iraqis a day are fleeing Mosul, several hundred more each day than before Iraqi forces began a new phase of their battle to retake the city from ISIS, the United Nations said.