Iraqi forces push into 3 neighborhoods in western Mosul

Iraq’s fight to retake Mosul from the Islamic State group has been the largest and the longest operation against the extremists in the almost three years since they overran a third of the country.

Iraqi government forces say they are closing in on the last remaining parts of western Mosul still held by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS).

“The joint forces have begun liberating the remaining districts”, an Iraqi military statement said, Reuters reported.

In February, Iraqi forces closely backed by the USA -led coalition launched the operation for western Mosul, initially planning to clear it of IS fighters south-to-north.

Soldiers are storming the Shifa neighborhood and al Jamhouri Hospital.

Multiple security forces units are attacking “what remains of the un-liberated areas” on the west bank of the River Tigris, the Joint Operations Command said in a statement.

The Iraqi official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said Nasiiri was killed Friday and is the first senior Iranian commander to die in the Mosul fight.

From his small patrol base north of the city, U.S. Army Capt. Devan Zimmerman said the U.S. -led coalition had already provided a significant amount of air and artillery strikes Saturday morning.

Zimmerman, who helps advise a brigade from the Iraqi Ninth division, said forces had made some gains. Iraq’s military has described them as “cautious” and the coalition has warned that the most hard battles in the Mosul operation could be ahead.

According to the Iraqi Government, cumulatively, more than 742,000 people have been displaced from Mosul and its surrounding areas since 2016, when the military offense to oust extremists began, including 566,000 individuals from Western Mosul since mid-February.

The fall of the city would, in effect, mark the end of the Iraqi half of the “caliphate” declared almost three years ago by IS.

Aid groups cautioned the Iraqi government, saying that its forces must ensure that escape routes are protected before civilians leave. Save the Children warned that fleeing civilians could be caught in the crossfire, leading to “deadly chaos” in a statement Friday.

The investigation comes amid broader claims that USA forces under President Donald Trump are killing more civilians as the military fulfills a plan to “annihilate” the Islamic State group. Ihab Jalil al-Aboudi and his unit were pinned down for hours at a residential intersection in western Mosul just a few hundred meters from the Old City.

The forces hope to capture in the next few days the mosque where Baghdadi revealed himself to the world and announced the “caliphate” that also spans part of Syria.

Major General Ma’en al-Saadi, chief of the Iraqi second anti-terrorism special operations, confirmed that ISIS is now using women to protect its final holdouts in Mosul.

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