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Iraqi forces free neighborhood as battles continue in Mosul's old city

Updated: 06 27 , 2017 13:34
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MOSUL, Iraq, June 26 -- Iraqi forces battling Islamic State (IS) militants on Monday freed a neighborhood from IS militants amid fierce clashes as the troops continued pushing toward the heart of the heavily populated old city in the western side of Mosul, the Iraqi military said.

The Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) forces liberated al-Farouq al-Oula neighborhood in the old city in the western side of Mosul, locally known as the right bank of the Tigris River, and they raised the Iraqi flag on some of its buildings after killing many IS militants, Abdul-Amir Yarallah from the Joint Operations Command (JOC) said in a statement.

The troops managed to free the neighborhood located in the northwestern part of the old city, after days of back-and-forth battles, while an army force continued street-to-street battles in the adjacent al-Mashahda neighborhood.

During the past few weeks, the CTS forces, federal police and army soldiers made slow progress due to the stiff resistance of IS militants and a large number of roadside bombs and booby-trapped buildings, in addition to IS snipers who took positions in the buildings of heavily-populated neighborhoods.

"There is only about one percent of the city of Mosul left in in the hands of Daesh (IS group) militants, and the Iraqi security forces are continuing their advance from several directions into of the old city center," JOC Spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Rasoul said on Sunday.

According to UN reports, some 100,000 civilians are still trapped in the IS-held areas in the old city center and the adjacent al-Shifaa neighborhood. The extremist group is using the civilians as human shields.

Iraqi forces, backed by international coalition, launched their final push on June 18 to drive out IS militants from al-Shifaa neighborhood and the densely-populated 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.

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