Iraq forces 'retake third of west Mosul from ISIL'

Last month, the United Kingdom -based Oxfam group said humanitarian conditions in western Mosul had deteriorated sharply since the city's supply routes were cut last November when the Iraqi army retook the eastern half of the city.

Federal police and rapid response brigades, an elite Interior Ministry unit, said at the weekend they had entered the Bab al-Tob area of the Old City, where fighting is expected to be toughest because of its narrow alleyways where armoured vehicles can not pass.

"But it stopped after the Daesh attack on Mosul", Mohsen said, referring to an IS offensive that overran the city and swathes of other territory north and west of Baghdad in 2014.

The sight and sounds of combat were evident in western Mosul on Tuesday as heavy fighting resumed.

ISIL snipers, however, were slowing the advance of special forces units on the Iron Bridge linking western and eastern Mosul, officers said.

It is thought there may be as many as 600,000 civilians still trapped in IS-controlled areas of Mosul.

The southernmost two bridges have already been retaken.

Speaking to AFP on Sunday, Staff Major General Maan al-Saadi of the elite Counter-Terrorism Service said "more than a third" of west Mosul was now under the control of security forces.

Fierce fighting has shaken Mosul in recent days as thousands of US-backed Iraqi soldiers and police battle to reclaim the country's second city, AFP reported. "We are taking out snipers hiding in the surrounding buildings, we are still pushing for the Iron Bridge".

Some have been taken by army trucks to processing areas but many have to wait.

Ashraf Ali, a nurse who escaped with his wife and two children, said mortar rounds were falling as they fled. "If there are civilians, families in the homes, we shout to them to take cover inside a room".

Speaking on Tuesday, Prime Minster Haider al-Abadi said that the military operation aimed at liberating western Mosul was "in its last stage".

More than 300,000 Mosul residents have been displaced since the start of the campaign in October.

In a February 26 strike - footage of which can be seen below, provided by the US Defense Department - coalition aircraft destroyed a roadblock set up by the terrorist group near Mosul.

A total of 150 women were freed from the Daesh terror organization as Iraqi security forces recaptured a factory in one of Mosul city's western neighborhoods. It would break the militant group's hold on territory in Iraq and end its control over half the "caliphate", which once spanned from northern Syria through western Iraq.

  • Arturo Norris