Iraq army chopper downed over E. Mosul; 2 pilots killed

Islamic State militant group (ISIS) fighters shot down an Iraqi army helicopter on Thursday over the northern Iraqi city of Mosul, killing two pilots, the Iraqi military said in a statement.

They are now battling to take the northwestern part from ISIS but the civilian death toll has mounted in the densely populated old city, where the militants are dug in amongst residents.

The elite forces, known as Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), completely liberated al-Yarmouk neighborhood in west of Mosul's old city center after days of fierce clashes against the extremist militants, Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Yarallah, from the Joint Operations Command (JOC), said in a statement.

The helicopter was hit by a rocket launched from western Mosul, where Isis militants are holding out in areas housing an estimated 400,000 people, Kurdish broadcaster Rudaw reported.

Eight members of the same family were killed in a USA -led coalition airstrike in western Mosul on Wednesday amid an ongoing offensive to oust Daesh terrorist group from the northern city.

Progress has slowed in the narrow lanes of Mosul's Old City, which Isis had prepared by making tunnels between buildings, screening streets from view with sheets and planting explosives.

It has seized weapons from government stockpiles in territory seized across Iraq and Syria, as well as manufacturing its own munitions and weaponising modified drones.

Mosul is Islamic State's last major city stronghold in Iraq. The hardline group seized Mosul, Iraq's second city, almost three years ago, declaring from one of its oldest and most iconic mosques the establishment of a "caliphate" that also spans parts of Syria.

United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein called on Iraqi and US-led coalition forces "to undertake an urgent review of tactics to ensure that the impact on civilians is reduced to an absolute minimum".

  • Leroy Wright