US Envoy Says IS 'Trapped' in Mosul

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

Iraq's joint operations command said another special forces unit and federal police were attacking the Bab al-Toub area on the edge of Mosul's Old City.

The general said he expected the fighting there to be completed in the coming hours. More than 65,000 fled their homes in the past two weeks alone, according to the International Organisation for Migration.

After recapturing the east of the city, Iraqi forces last month set their sites on the west, where hundreds of thousands of civilians remain trapped.

Iraqi forces have since made a major turnaround, dealing IS a string of defeats and launching a massive operation in October to recapture Mosul.

Staff Major-General Maan al-Saadi of Iraq's elite counter-terrorism service told AFP news agency on Sunday about 17 of 40 western districts of the second-largest city had been retaken from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL).

He said Daesh militants were retreating against Iraqi forces in the area.

"Our forces are resolved to advance toward the center of western Mosul", al-Talibi said.

In mid-February, Iraqi forces - backed by a USA -led air coalition - began fresh operations aimed at dislodging Daesh terrorists from western Mosul.

"Initial checks of part of the mass grave revealed remains with prison uniforms and lined up in a way that indicates they were shot dead in groups", said Karim Nouri, spokesman for the Hashid Shaabi, a state-run umbrella for Shi'ite paramilitary groups.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in a report that as many as 600 people were killed in the Badush prison massacre, which took place on the same day that Daesh militants captured Mosul in June 2014.

The operation is part of a larger military offensive to liberate Mosul from IS, which overran the city in 2014.

Losing Mosul would be a major blow to Isis, but the group is expected to pose a continuing threat, reverting to insurgent tactics such as bombings.

  • Leroy Wright