Iraqi troops tighten their grip around ISIS in Mosul

Iraqi troops tighten their grip around ISIS in Mosul

An Iraqi Army helicopter fires a missile at ISIS positions as government forces seeking to retake Mosul said they had cut the last road out of the city, trapping hundreds of jihadists inside.

They tried to advance on Mosul's Old City and to a bridge across the Tigris river in their campaign to retake the western part of the city.

Saadi said he expected it would take less time to recapture the western half of the city than the east, which was cleared in January after 100 days of fighting.

Iraqi soldiers and pro-government paramilitaries are fighting ISIS west of Mosul, while two special forces units and the federal police battle the jihadists inside it.

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Iraq's Joint Operations Command spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Rasool said ISIS resistance has "begun to weaken in a big way" but defeating the militant group "is not easy".

For weeks, Iraqi officials have sounded optimistic about the battle for Mosul, which is Iraq's second-largest city.

Almost 100,000 people have been displaced since the operation to liberate western Mosul began last month, according to Iraq's Ministry of Migration and Displaced.

The Iraqi Air Force has dropped millions of leaflets on western Mosul, where food and water are scarce and electricity sporadic, warning residents of the ongoing offensive and telling them to remain in their homes if they feel safe. Executions continue. Sunni heartlands are mostly on the frontline or in areas under ISIS control, while hostility from Shias, Kurds, and others make it hard for Sunnis to establish new lives. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in his recent visit to Mosul said the defeat of Islamic State militants in Mosul is "inevitable".

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As an array of forces dismantle Islamic State's self-proclaimed caliphate across Iraq and Syria, more evidence is emerging of the war crimes committed by the Sunni Islamist militants, who targeted Shi'ite Muslims and religious minorities as well as opponents from their own sect.

Civilians fled from Bab Jadid and Wadi Hajar districts to safe areas controlled by the Iraqi forces.

So-called Islamic State (IS) is alleged to have killed hundreds of inmates, majority Shia Muslims, when it seized Mosul in 2014.

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