Mosul (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi Federal Police forces used bulldozers on Thursday to remove barricades and open exit routes for civilians out of western Mosul’s, Islamic State-held Old City.
Police chief Shaker Jawdat said the tractors were also opening other routes for logistic supplies for the troops extending from the Old City to Badush at the north.
Earlier on Thursday, Rudaw agency said Federal Police forces were surrounding the Old City from the south, Rapid Response forces from the east and the Counter-Terrorism Service from the west and north. It added that there were nearly 200 fighters remaining in that region.
Iraqi forces retook eastern Mosul from Islamic State members in January, and have been advancing through the western side since February. The ancient, narrowly structured and densely populated Old City is the group’s last refuge, and was the location where IS supreme leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the establishment of its “caliphate”.
Iraqi commanders say they control at least 90 percent of territories in western Mosul, and predict to retake the city before the end of May. There are currently only two other districts under IS control besides the Old City.
The United Nations said in March there were at least 400.000 civilians stranded in the Old City in IS captivity. Iraqi officials and aid groups fear civilians are used as human shields. Dozens were executed by the group for attempting to flee areas under its control or collaborating with security troops, according to recurrent news reports.