Iraqi forces push deeper in city center of western Mosul

ISIS took large swathes of territory across Iraq in 2014 and declared itself a global caliphate from the city of Mosul, the largest and now last remaining city under the group's control in Iraq.

ISIS snipers have proven remarkably successful at slowing the advances of Iraqi ground troops, particularly those which had limited training in preparation for urban combat.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi flew into Mosul to rally troops, telling state TV, "Iraqis shall walk tall when the war is over".

ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is believed to have abandoned Mosul and is now hiding in the desert due to the advancement of Iraqi forces in the city.

Iraqi Staff Major General Maan al-Saadi told the French news agency, AFP, that "around more than a third" of western Mosul is under the control of Iraqi units.

Since then, the terrorists have lost control of those territories, with Iraqi forces, backed by the US-led coalition, launching an operation against IS's last stronghold in the country, Mosul, in October 2016.

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.

But IS resistance "has begun to weaken in a big way", he said.

Iraqi forces battling to retake Mosul have cut the last road out of the city, trapping IS group fighters inside, the USA envoy to the anti-IS coalition said Sunday.

Outside Mosul, Iraqi army forces and pro-government paramilitaries are operating against IS to the west of the city.

Lami said most of the fighters that had fought around the governorate building were local but there were some foreigners.

In 2014, Iraqi lawmaker, Vian Dakhil, also said that Islamic State were holding over 500 women from the Yazidi religious minority at Badush prison.

More than 5,000 Iraqi civilians have fled their homes in western Mosul as Iraqi forces are struggling to dislodge Daesh militants from the northern city.

  • Leroy Wright