Iraq says 300 IS militants remain holed up in Mosul's Old City

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-05 19:59:56|Editor: MJ
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MOSUL, Iraq, July 5 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi military commanders said Wednesday that about 300 Islamic State (IS) militants remained holed up in a small area in Mosul's Old City, amid fierce clashes in the western side of Mosul.

"We believe that some 300 Daesh (IS group) militants are fighting in a small area near the Tigris River in Mosul's Old City," Maj. Gen. Sami al-Aaridhi, a commander from the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) forces, said in a press release.

Meanwhile, the CTS commander Lt. Gen. Abdul Ghani al-Asadi told reporters that "Iraqi forces are pushing further into the remaining small part of the Old City, and they are now about 250 meters away from the bank of the Tigris River."

The fighting is becoming heavier as Iraqi forces push the extremist IS militants in their last stronghold of the Old City toward the Tigris River, Asadi said, adding that IS militants are increasingly resorting to suicide attacks.

Iraq's CTS, army, federal police and the Rapid Response forces have been fighting inside the Old City, but the troops are making slow progress due to stiff resistance of IS militants.

And there were a large number of roadside bombs and booby-trapped buildings, in addition to IS snipers taking positions in the buildings and narrow alleys of heavily-populated neighborhoods, where thousands of civilians still live under IS rule.

On Tuesday, an Iraqi army commander said the full liberation of Mosul from IS militants would be declared within two days.

Mosul, 400 km north of Iraq's capital Baghdad, came under IS control in June 2014, when government forces abandoned their weapons and fled, enabling IS militants to take control of parts of Iraq's northern and western regions.