Iraqi forces extend grip in IS stronghold in Mosul's old city

Officials say government troops have cut off an escape route for the fighters and "victory will be announced soon".

Lieutenant General Raed Shakir Jawdat, the commander of the country's federal police, said the area where the hospital is located, al-Shifaa, had been completely retaken, limiting IS' presence in Mosul to the Old City.

Iraqi officials report US -backed government troops have recaptured more neighborhoods in the Old City of Mosul, saying dozens of Islamic State (IS) militants have been killed in fierce fighting for the extremists' final stronghold in the country.

US -backed Iraqi troops also recaptured neighborhoods in the Old City.

More than eight months since the operation to retake Mosul was launched, IS has gone from fully controlling the city to holding a few neighbourhoods on its western side.

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Iraqi military forces on Thursday captured the Mosul mosque at the heart of the northern city, which Daesh had declared its de facto capital.

The mosque was built in 1172 AD along with its famous leaning minaret, which gave the city its nickname "al-Hadbaa" or "the hunchback". Hundreds of civilians have already been reported killed and used as human shields.

At least 50,000 civilians, about half of the Old City's population, are believed to still be trapped in ISIL-held pockets of Mosul.

The Iranian legislators in their statement thanked God for the victory and also congratulated the Iraqi people, government, parliament, Iraqi People's Mobilization Forces (PMF), Iraqi religious leader Ayatollah Sistani, and Iranian military advisors in Iraq for the triumph.

IS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces backed by US-led coalition air strikes have since regained much of the territory they lost.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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