Iraq Accuses IS of Using Chemical Weapons in Mosul

Iraqi forces have been making significant gains in west Mosul over the past two months but the toughest battles could yet lie ahead, with die-hard jihadists hunkering down in the treacherous streets of the Old City.

In 2012, work began to build a new stadium on the same spot with a planned capacity of more than 20,000, but like the Mosul club's Iraqi league aspirations, these plans were also thwarted by the IS assault in 2014.

Iraqi Federal Police forces "are engaged in hard, house-to-house clashes with Daesh fighters inside the Old City", a media officer from these units told Reuters.

Federal Police forces moved 200 metres (yards) deeper into the Old City, getting closer to al-Nuri mosque, a statement said.

An investigation has been launched to determine what type of gas was used.

"You can not get vehicles in there, so it's gotta be a dismounted operation", Brigadier General Rick Uribe, a senior coalition commander, said of the Old City.

Now, eastern Mosul has been recaptured from the militants and efforts are underway to rehabilitate football pitches, even as the battle for the city's west continues on the other side of the Tigris River.

That "makes it very hard for any offensive manoeuvre in there, but it makes it very easy to defend", Uribe said.

The US-led coalition is attempting to recapture the Old City from the extremists, but the ancient quarters are densely populated and there have been concerns over civilian casualties.

"There's still another significant number of areas within Iraq that will. need to be cleared of Daesh, and. the Iraqi security forces are getting themselves ready for that eventuality - they know that it's coming", he said.

The fighting has killed several thousands among civilians and fighters on both sides, according to aid organisations.

He said seven soldiers suffered breathing problems and were treated in a nearby field clinic.

Displaced Iraqi men arrive at a processing center in western Mosul on April 14, 2017, before they are transported to refugee camps.

The global humanitarian aid agencies are working around-the-clock to expand the emergency sites and camps to shelter the hundreds of thousands more who may flee their homes in coming days and weeks, the statement said.

  • Leroy Wright