Published: Wed, June 28, 2017
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

IS fighters launch counterattacks in west Mosul neighborhood

IS fighters launch counterattacks in west Mosul neighborhood

Counterattacks by Islamic State militants on the western edge of Mosul have stalled Iraqi forces' push in the Old City, the last IS stronghold in the battle, an Iraqi officer said Tuesday.

"The victory announcement will come in a very short time", Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on his website on Monday evening.

Up to 350 militants are estimated by the Iraqi military to be dug in there among civilians in wrecked houses and crumbling infrastructure.

The assaults underscore the Sunni extremist group's resilience in the city, Iraq's second-largest, despite months of heavy fighting with Iraqi forces backed by USA air power.

The Popular Mobilization Forces, also known as Hashd Shaabi, announced that three of its unarmed members were killed and thirteen others were injured as ISIL insurgents slip into civilians returning to a liberated area west of Mosul. Troops ducked into narrow alleyways, through bright courtyards and up balconies to reach positions with a view of the now destroyed grand Al-Nouri Mosque.

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The Iraqi military remains engaged in a wide-ranging campaign - launched last October - to recapture the entire city the terrorist group overran in mid-2014.

USA and coalition military forces continued to attack the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria yesterday, conducting 37 strikes consisting of 79 engagements, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.

Only a handful of neighborhood remain to be cleared, al-Saadi said, standing atop a rooftop overlooking al-Faruq street which now marks the frontline, a few dozen meters (yards) from the old mosque.

Iraqi forces launched an operation to retake Mosul's Old City just over a week ago, more than eight months after the fight to retake Iraq's second-largest city officially began.

The Iraqi government once hoped to take Mosul by the end of 2016, but fighting has dragged on as militants have reinforced positions in civilian areas, effectively using residents as human shields.

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