Iraqi Forces Launch Operation to Seize Last Daesh Enclave in Mosul
Iraqi armed forces launched an operation on Saturday to capture the last Daesh-held [the Arabic acronym for the Takfiri ‘ISIS/ISIL' group] enclave in Mosul, according to a military statement.
The fall of the city would effectively mark the end of Iraqi half of the proclaimed "caliphate" nearly three years ago by Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, which also covers parts of Syria.
The Iraqi air force dropped leaflets on Friday urging residents in the area to flee, although humanitarian groups fear for the safety of civilians trying to escape.
The enclave covers mainly the Old City center and three adjacent districts alongside the western bank of the Tigris River.
The battle for Mosul, now in its eighth month, has taken longer than planned as the terrorists are dug in among civilians, fighting back with booby traps, suicide cars and motor-bikes, snipers and mortar fire.
"The joint forces have begun liberating the remaining districts," said an Iraqi military statement.
Desperate civilians trapped behind Daesh lines now face a harrowing situation with little food and water, no electricity and limited access to hospitals.
The push inside the Old City coincides with the start of the holy fasting month of Ramadan. Its prime targets is the medieval Grand al-Nuri mosque and its landmark leaning minaret where Daesh's black flag has been flying since mid 2014.
The forces hope to capture in the next few days the mosque where Baghdadi revealed himself to the world and announced the "caliphate".
Meanwhile, the United Nations expressed "deep concern" for the hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped behind Daesh lines, in a statement on Saturday from the organization's under-secretary general for humanitarian affairs, Stephen O'Brien.
"Although the UN is not present in the areas where fighting is occurring, we have received very disturbing reports of families being shut inside booby-trapped homes and of children being deliberately targeted by snipers," he said.
Source: Reuters, Edited by website team