Iraq forces start storming Mosul's Old City held by IS
Members of the Iraqi Army's 9th Armoured Division are photographed with an Islamic State flag, claimed after fighting with Islamic State militants in western Mosul, Iraq June 17, 2017. Photograph: (Reuters)
Iraqi forces started storming the Islamic State-held Old City of Mosul on Sunday, according to a released military statement. Mosul used to be the Islamic State (IS) capital in Iraq, but now the historic district is the last still under the militants control.
It is quintessential guerilla warfare here, fought in a densely-populated labyrinth of narrow alleyways. Combat is often conducted house by house.
About 100,000 civilians remain trapped here, stuck with little food, water and medicine. Hospital access is limited, too, according to the United Nations.
"This is the last chapter" in the offensive to take Mosul, said Lieutenant General Abdul Ghani al-Asadi, the commander of the Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) elite units.
The US-backed Iraqi offensive to capture Mosul entered its ninth month on Saturday. As part of a diabolical tactic to keep civilians in as human shields, IS snipers shoot at families trying to escape on foot or by boat across the Tigris River, the UN said on Friday.
Iraqi government forces regained eastern Mosul this January, then a month later began the offensive on the western side that includes the Old City.
The fall of Mosul would, in effect, mark the end of the Iraqi half of the "caliphate" that Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared in a speech from an historic mosque in the Old City three years ago, covering parts of Iraq and Syria.
Here is a look back at WION's report from the end of 2016, at an earlier stage in the fight to take Mosul back from the IS.
The pentagon has admitted to carrying out another airstrike that killed more than 200 civilians including women and children. The Iraqi vice president has called it a humanitarian disaster (APTN,WION)
(With inputs from Reuters)