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Iraqi forces warn ISIS 'surrender or die'

Monday 19-06-2017 - 01:03 PM
News Agencies
Photo Credit: AFP
Photo Credit: AFP
Mosul - Iraqi forces pushed deeper into Mosul's Old City on Monday after launching a final assault on ISIS, warning civilians to stay inside and telling extremists to "surrender or die".
Iraqi forces launched the operation Sunday to retake the district, the last part of Iraq's second city still held by ISIS after a months-long offensive.
Commanders say the extremists are putting up fierce resistance and there are fears for more than 100,000 civilians believed to be trapped in the maze of narrow streets.
Staff Major General Maan al-Saadi, a top commander in Iraq's elite Counter-Terrorism Service, told AFP that heavy fighting had resumed at dawn on Monday.
"At 6:00 am we pushed deeper into the Old City and took control of new areas in the Faruq neighborhood," he said.
"Daesh resistance has been fierce," he said, using an Arabic acronym for the extremist group.
"They have blocked every entrance, planted IEDs (improvised explosive devices) and booby-trapped houses our forces might be near," he said. "Penetrating was very difficult. Today the fighting is face to face."
The push into Mosul's historic heart on the west bank of the river Tigris marks the culmination of a months-long campaign by Iraqi forces to retake IS's last major urban stronghold in the country.
Photo Credit: Reuters
Photo Credit: Reuters
The loss of Mosul would mark the effective end of the Iraqi portion of the cross-border "caliphate" ISIS declared in summer 2014 after seizing swathes of Iraq and Syria.
Iraqi forces stationed Humvees by the Grand Mosque on the retaken east side of Mosul, facing the Old City and mounted with speakers.
The loudspeakers blared messages to ISIS fighters, telling them: "You have only this choice: surrender or die".
Messages were also broadcast to civilians in the Old City saying Iraqi forces "are about to end your suffering".
Late on Sunday Iraqi forces dropped nearly 500,000 leaflets over the city, warning that they "have started attacking from all directions".
The leaflets urge civilians to "stay away from open places and... exploit any opportunity that arises during the fighting" to escape.
Surrounded by Iraqi forces on three sides and blocked on the other by the Tigris River that runs through Mosul, the extremists are cornered.
Iraqi forces launched a vast operation to retake Mosul in October, seizing the city's eastern side in January and starting an assault on its western part in February.
Since the start of the battle to retake Mosul, an estimated 862,000 people have been displaced. Around 195,000 have since returned, mainly to the city's east.

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