UPDATED: army takes over Mosul’s Old City entrance, IS trapped

Smoke is seen as members of the Iraqi Army clash with Islamic State fighters at a frontline in north west of Mosul, Iraq, May 5, 2017. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

Mosul ( Iraqi government forces managed on Thursday to take over a main entrance to western Mosul’s Old City, Islamic State militants’ last refuge in the city, the Joint Operations Command said.

Lt. Gen. Abudl-Amir Yarallah, commander of the JOC’s Nineveh Operations, said in a statement forces had taken over the Bab Sinjar area, effectively severing all routes to the Old City and putting militants under a consummate siege.

Due to the impassable streets of the Old City, the 9th division’s armored vehicles will stop at besieging the area, leaving the invasion to infantry forces from the army, the Counter-Terrorism Service and the Rapid Response forces, Brig. Gen. Saleh Harz, commander of the 34th brigade of the army’s 9th division, told Almirbad website.

Iraqi commanders have recently said that a few hundred IS fighters remained in the Old City, the group’s last refuge in western Mosul from where the group first declared the establishment of its rule over a third of both Iraq and Syria in 2014.
Iraqi government forces recaptured eastern Mosul in January and pushed towards the western side of the city in mid February.

Forces are also sweeping through neighboring al-Shifa district, an area with major health and medical facilities.

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