Iraqi armed forces make progress in Mosul campaign

Iraqi armed forces make progress in Mosul campaign

An Iraqi woman runs toward a Rapid Response forces member in Mosul’s western Al-Shifa district as they battle against Daesh group. — AFP

BAGHDAD — Iraqi forces on Tuesday reported progress in the US-backed campaign to dislodge Daesh from Mosul, announcing the capture of a district just north the city’s historic center.

With the loss of the Zanjili neighborhood, the enclave still held by Daesh in the northern Iraqi city has shrunk to two districts along the western banks of the Tigris river — the densely populated Old City center and the Medical City.

Iraqi government forces retook eastern Mosul in January and began a new push on May 27 to capture the remaining enclave, where up to 200,000 people are trapped. The Mosul offensive started in October with air and ground support from a US-led international coalition. It has taken much longer than expected as Daesh is fighting in the middle of civilians, slowing the advance of the assailants.

The fall of Mosul would, in effect, mark the end of the Iraqi half of the so-called “caliphate” declared in 2014 over parts of Iraq and Syria by Daesh terror leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, in a speech from a historic mosque in the old city.

In Syria, Kurdish forces backed by US-air strikes are besieging Daesh forces in the city of Raqqa, the militants’ de facto capital in that country.

About 800,000 people, more than a third of the pre-war population of Mosul, have already fled, seeking refuge either with friends and relatives or in camps. — Reuters