Mosul (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi government troops resumed advances against Islamic State militants in western Mosul’s Old City on Thursday, recapturing another mosque and a medieval church.
The Federal Police’s media office said forces took over al-Saa’a Church and Omar al-Aswad mosque in Bab Jadid neighborhood in the Old City.
The centuries-old church had been ransacked by Islamic State militants in 2015 and was turned into a reservoir for items looted by the group from security agents’ homes, according to Sputnik.
The statement also said 20 children were rescued from the neighboring al-Shifa district where troops took over a few medical facilities and an orphanage.
The development comes a few hours after the Iraqi army said it took over the Grand Nuri Mosque, the birthplace of the Islamic State’s self-proclaimed “caliphate”, marking a symbolic collapse of the group’s rule in Iraq.
Iraqi forces, backed by a U.S.-led coalition and allied paramilitary troops, took over eastern Mosul in January, and aimed at the western side of the city starting mid February.
There are a few hundred militants believed to be in the Old City, holding at least 50.000 civilians captives.
Meanwhile, DPA quoted an Iraqi medical source saying that more than 204 civilians, including children below 13 years, died by Islamic State and security forces fires over the past week.
Saadullah al-Khaffaf, a field doctor escorting Iraqi forces, told the agency that those had been killed while escaping the Old City, adding that the number is prone to increasing as there are hundreds othes stranded at areas still under the militants’ control. He said the number does not include those bombed while at home.