Mosul (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi security forces recaptured 30 percent of western Mosul’s Old City on Wednesday after a weeks-old siege on the strategic Islamic State bastion, a security commander said in statements.
Media official at the Interior Ministry’s Rapid Response forces, Abdul-Amir al-Mohammadawi, said his forces, joining the Federal Police troops, continue incursions inside the Old City, and had, so far, taken over a third of the area. He said seven snipers from the group were killed during Wednesday advances.
Police forces started storming the area earlier this week after weeks of a cautious siege prompted by IS’s use of snipers and suicide bombers, as well as the militants’ intentional deployment in the middle of civilians.
Iraqi generals had viewed the recapture of the densely populated and narrowly structured Old City as vital for final victory over IS militants. The Old City is home to the Grand Nuri al-Kabir Mosque, the place where Islamic State’s supreme leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the establishment of the group’s rule in Iraq and neighboring Syria in a famous sermon.
Iraqi forces recaptured the eastern side of Mosul in January after three months of fighting with IS, and sat on a new offensive in February to retake the western region. Commanders said earlier this month that the Islamic State was controlling only less than seven percent of Iraqi territory.
The conflict in Mosul has so far displaced more than half a million civilians, according to United Nations and Iraqi government counts.