Iraqi forces began storming the Islamic State-held Old City of Mosul on Sunday, an assault they hope will be the last in the eight-month campaign to seize the militants’ stronghold.
The historic district is the last still under control of the militants in the city which used to be their capital in Iraq.
It is a densely-populated maze of narrow alleyways where fighting is often conducted house by house.
About 100,000 civilians remain trapped there in harrowing conditions, with little food, water and medicine and limited access to hospitals, according to the United Nations.
“This will be a terrifying time for around 100,000 people still trapped in Mosul’s Old City … now at risk of getting caught up in the fierce street fighting to come,” the International Rescue Committee (IRC) said in a statement.
“This is the final chapter” in the offensive to take Mosul, said Lieutenant General Abdul Ghani al-Assadi, commander of the Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) elite units spearheading the assault.
A U.S.-led international coalition is providing air and ground support to the campaign.
Several air strikes during the day hit a medical complex located just north of the Old City, alongside the western bank of the Tigris river, a Reuters TV reporter said.
Armored vehicles were heading toward the frontline north of the Old City as shelling and gunfire could be heard.
The medical complex, housing the two biggest hospitals of Mosul, is still held in part by the militants who are using its buildings as sniper outposts.
Islamic State’s…Read More