Iraqi forces capture over half of western Mosul

At the moment, the U.S. have 500 troops fighting in Raqa, as Iraqi forces advanced on the IS group in west Mosul on Thursday.

Alhakim said the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the worldwide watchdog, sent a letter to Iraq saying it was ready to come and help if there were any indications of chemical weapons use.

The troops killed many IS militants and destroyed three vehicle bombs and 20 explosive devices during the battles in Bab al-Toub, the statement said.

A renewed push against the jihadists launched last Sunday has seen IS forced from several neighbourhoods and key sites, including the main local government headquarters and the famed Mosul museum.

On Saturday, Iraq's pro-government Hashd al-Shaabi militia discovered a mass grave in Badush prison near the Iraqi city of Mosul.

The Iraqi army has surrounded Mosul and is now is control of the last road leading out of the city.

Human Rights Watchhas reported that IS gunmen executed as many as 600 inmates at the prison on June 10, 2014, forcing them to kneel along a nearby ravine and then shooting them with assault rifles, an account also contained in a United Nations report.

Late in January, Abadi declared the liberation of the eastern side of Mosul, or the left bank of Tigris, after more than 100 days of fighting against IS militants. In addition to helping Iraqi forces retake territory, McGurk said the USA -led coalition has killed 180 IS leaders since the campaign against the militants began more than two years ago.

Russian and Syrian strikes hit IS-held areas in the province, the Britain-based monitor said, with eight civilians, mostly from the same family, killed in a strike on the village of Maskanah. The U.N. estimates that about 750,000 civilians are still trapped in their houses in Mosul's western side.

The US-led coalition announced they had deployed another 400 troops on the ground in Syria. "It has begun to lose command and control", he said, adding that around 17 out of 40 western districts had been retaken.

The death toll was not immediately confirmed as the bodies had not yet arrived at hospital, the medical source said.

  • Leroy Wright