Mosul Old City battle goes house to house as Islamic State fighters defend

Mon Jun 19, 2017 4:04pm GMT
 

By Sergei Karazy, Alkis Konstantinidis and Ahmed Rasheed

MOSUL/BAGHDAD, Iraq (Reuters) - Islamic State fighters defended their remaining stronghold in the Old City of Mosul on Monday, moving stealthily along narrow back alleys as U.S.-backed Iraqi forces slowly advanced.

The intensity of fighting was lower than on Sunday, when Iraqi forces announced the start of the assault on the Old City, a Reuters visuals team reported from near the frontlines.

The historic district, and a tiny area to its north, are the only parts of the city still under the militants' control. Mosul used to be the Iraqi capital of the group, also known as ISIS.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) expressed alarm on Monday at the situation of the civilians in the Old City, estimated at more than 100,000 by the United Nations.

“We’re seeing dozens of new patients a day, including children and the elderly," said Julia Schuerch, an ICRC emergency specialist in Mosul.

"For a heart-breakingly high number, it was simply too late; they died soon after reaching us,” she said in a statement from the organisation calling for the evacuation of the wounded. "This is the final chapter" of the offensive to take Mosul, said Lieutenant General Abdul Ghani al-Assadi, senior commander

in Mosul of Counter Terrorism Service.

The militants are moving house to house through holes knocked in inner walls to avoid air surveillance, said Major-General Sami al-Arithi of the Counter Terrorism Service, the elite units spearheading the fighting north of the Old City.   Continued...

Iraqi military tanks advance towards the Islamic State-held Old City in western Mosul, Iraq June 18, 2017. REUTERS/Erik De Castro
 
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