ISIS foreign soldiers fight to the end

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, announced the start of an offensive on February 19 to drive extremist militants out of the western side of Mosul, locally known as the right bank of Tigris River, which bisects the city.

The Counter-Terrorism Service and Rapid Response are two special forces units that have spearheaded operations in the Mosul area, while the federal police are a paramilitary police unit.

USA -backed Iraqi forces began a major offensive on February 19 to remove Islamic State militants from the western section of Mosul, nearly a month after they forced militants out of the eastern part of the city.

Snipers had also tried to deter Iraqi forces as they approached from Mosul's south.

Since Feb. 25, 45,714 people have been displaced from western Mosul, the United Nations International Organization for Migration said Sunday.

The new push in the western side of Mosul, locally known as the right bank of Tigris, came after two-day pause of advance due to bad weather that had limited the air support by the Iraqi and global coalition aircraft. The militants, he said, were moving from house to house and deploying snipers.

Iraqi security forces are progressing as planned in the fight to retake Mosul from Daesh but the battle will get tougher as they get closer to the city center, a USA general said on Saturday.

However, on Sunday anti-IS forces faced fresh allegations of violations committed during the campaign, with Human Rights Watch accusing them of forcing out relatives of suspected IS militants, who are considered guilty by association. Mosul is the capital of Nineveh province.

So far, no investigation into the use of chemical weapons has been launched.

Hospital officials said 10 patients were admitted for exposure and would be discharged in the coming days.

Defeating Isil in Mosul would crush the Iraqi wing of the caliphate declared by the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in 2014, over parts of Iraq and Syria.

"Unfortunately, there is a clear shortfall in the work of these [UN] organisations", he said.

More than 17,000 people arrived from west Mosul on Feb 28 alone, while over 13,000 came on March 3, according to the IOM.

  • Leroy Wright