Iraqi forces renewed their assault Monday against Takfiri terrorists in Mosul’s Old City.
Iraqi forces began the massive operation to retake west Mosul from the ISIL Takfiri group last month and have recaptured a series of neighborhoods.
Iraqi officials and witnesses have said US-led air strikes killed civilians in the Mosul Al-Jadida area in recent days, but the number of victims could not be independently confirmed.
“Federal Police and Rapid Response Division units began to advance today on the southwestern axis of the Old City,” Lieutenant General Raed Shakir Jawdat, the commander of the federal police, said in a statement.
Jawdat said that one of their targets is Faruq Street, which runs near the Al-Nuri mosque.
ISIL chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his only known public appearance at the mosque after ISIL seized Mosul in 2014, calling on Muslims to obey him.
Iraqi interior ministry forces have been operating in the area of the Old City for several weeks, but they have faced tough resistance and progress in the area has been slow.
The Counter-Terrorism Service, which along with the Rapid Response Division is one of two special forces units spearheading west Mosul operations, has made faster progress in areas further west.
But the Old City — a warren of narrow streets and closely-spaced buildings in which the UN said 400,000 people still reside — poses unique challenges in terms of the difficulty of advancing as well as the danger to civilians.
Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, the spokesman for Iraq’s Joint Operations Command, said that interior ministry units have deployed snipers to target ISIL terrorists using civilians as human shields.
Rasool said that the defense ministry has opened an investigation into the reports that US-led strikes killed civilians in west Mosul.