Iraqi forces close in on IS redoubt in Mosul's old city

Source: Xinhua| 2017-07-04 03:09:07|Editor: yan
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MOSUL, Iraq, July 3 (Xinhua) -- Iraqi forces on Monday recaptured new areas in the remaining redoubt of Islamic State (IS) militants in Mosul's old city amid fierce clashes that left dozens of IS militants killed, the Iraqi military said.

The army's 16th Infantry Division freed the areas of Khatoniyah, Tuwalib and Ra's al-Kour after defeating the IS defensive lines, leaving 67 IS militants killed, the Iraqi Joint Operations Command said in a statement.

The army's explosive experts dismantled 72 roadside bombs planted in the battlefields to hamper the progress the Iraqi soldiers, the statement said.

The troops also opened several safe corridors in the densely-populated neighborhoods of the old city, and evacuated at least 961 civilians, the statement added.

Iraq's Counter Terrorism Service, army, federal police and the Rapid Response forces have been fighting inside the old city, but the troops are making slow progress due to the 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.

The battles also continued in the remaining part of al-Shifaa neighborhood, the last neighborhood still seized by IS militants outside the major IS redoubt of the old city center.

Mosul, 400 km north of Iraq's capital Baghdad, has been under IS control since 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.