Middle East Mosul battle is now house to house: Iraqi commander

Mosul battle is now house to house: Iraqi commander
Smoke billows from the positions of the Islamic State militants after an artillery attack by the Iraqi forces in western Mosul, Iraq, June 19, 2017. (Photo: Reuters/Alkis Konstantinidis)

MOSUL, Iraq (Kurdistan24) – The battle against the Islamic State (IS) in Mosul’s Old City is now “house to house,” according to an Iraqi commander.

IS militants are continuing to defend their last remaining stronghold in the city, using narrow alleyways and destroyed homes to attack US-backed Iraqi forces.

According to Reuters, the intensity of the fight has decreased since Iraqi forces announced they would begin the operation in the Old City.

The insurgent group is now only in control of Mosul’s Old City, a historic district, and minor territories of the surrounding area.

“This is the final chapter [of the offensive to retake Mosul],” declared Lieutenant General Abdul Ghani al-Assadi, a senior commander of the Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) in Mosul.

In an attempt to prevent the US-led coalition’s air forces from spotting their positions, IS militants are moving through holes knocked through walls inside homes.

“Now the fighting is going from house to house inside narrow alleys,” Major-General of the CTS Sami al-Arithi told state TV. “This is not an easy task.”

The Iraqi Army revealed the remaining extremists left in the city are less than 300, once nearly 6,000 when the Mosul operation began in October 2016.

However, over 100,000 civilians remain trapped in the war-torn, densely-populated area which makes up Mosul’s Old City.

Some of the trapped civilians, who have little to no food, water or medical care, have been used as human shields by the insurgent group.

The Iraqi government had planned to regain Mosul by the end of 2016, but the offensive was prolonged as IS militants began reinforcing positions in civilian areas to fight back.