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Iraqi Troops Fight in Strategic Areas of West Mosul

Iraqi Troops Fight in Strategic Areas of West Mosul

Chief of Iraq's Counterterrorism Command, Major General Abdul-Wahhab al-Saedi said the Iraqi army has created some safe corridors paving the way for the release of civilians from Mosul's old city.

That would bring to an end half of the Islamic State self-declared caliphate in 2014, although Islamic State continues to hold positions in Syria.

Smoke rises from clashes in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq June 27, 2017.

TRT World's Soraya Lennie reports from Erbil.

"The 16th infantry division has liberated al-Mashahda district in the Old City of Mosul and raised Iraq's flag above its buildings", the statement published on its Facebook platform reads. About one sq km (0.4 sq mile) remained under its control, according to Iraqi state TV.

The battle to rid the rest of the Old City of Daesh is expected to be hard as, according to the Iraqi military, 50,000 residents are still trapped behind the militants' lines.

Up to 350 militants are estimated by the Iraqi military to be dug in in the Old City among civilians in wrecked houses and crumbling infrastructure.

They were making extensive use of booby traps, suicide bombers and sniper fire to slow the advance of Iraqi forces from the west, the north and the south. Residents who have escaped from the Old City, say that they have little food, water or medicine in the Old City.

The Iraqi government had once hoped to take Mosul by the end of past year, but the fighting has dragged on as the militants reinforced positions in civilian areas, effectively using the residents as human shields.

The UN has said that at least 750,000 people have fled since operations to recapture Mosul began.

But despite staggering territorial losses, IS has managed to launch a number of counterattacks and insurgent assaults inside some Mosul neighborhoods that were retaken from IS earlier this month.

ISIS's Baghdadi has left the fighting in Mosul to local commanders and is assumed to be hiding on the Iraqi-Syrian border. The extremist group is using the civilians as human shields.