Iraqi forces launch attack on Mosul old city

The offensive to retake Mosul began October 17, led by Iraqi security forces and aided by the Kurdish Peshmerga, a Shiite-led militia, and the US -led worldwide coalition.

Iraq state TV aired live footage showing thick black smoke rising from the Old City, with the sound of gunfire rattling inside.

The Old City is a densely-populated warren of narrow alleys where fighting is often done from house to house, according to Reuters. It said leaflets have been distributed urging civilians to leave through five "safe corridors".

The UN says around 150,000 civilians are trapped in the ancient city centre along with hundreds of ISIL fighters.

"The reason we know that they're being shot at by snipers and not crossfire is because they're being shot in the back", Grande said.

Special forces are advancing on the district from the west and federal police are on the southern front, a military statement said.

IS has been preventing civilians from leaving Raqqa in an apparent attempt to use them as human shields.

He added that there is virtually no food, water, electricity and fuel in the area, and civilians are "living in increasingly worsening situation of penury and panic because they are surrounded by fighting on every side".


As for Raqqa itself, the USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are on the offensive to strip IS of one of its key strongholds and self-declared capital in Syria.

Earlier this month, the global body warned of a "significant escalation" of civilian deaths in the city.

- November 23: Shiite-dominated paramilitary units known as the Hashed al-Shaabi say they have cut IS supply lines between Mosul and the jihadists' Syrian stronghold Raqa, 400 kilometres (250 miles) to the west. Mortars fired by security forces trying to dislodge the militants "rain down", while airstrikes tear down buildings in the packed neighborhood, one resident said by phone from the besieged area.

Key dates in the Iraqi offensive to recapture Mosul, the country's second biggest city, from the Islamic State group (IS) jihadists who seized it in June 2014.

Iraq launched its military offensive to retake western Mosul from the Islamic State on February 19.

In Mosul, where a US-backed offensive against IS on Saturday entered its ninth month, the militants have been squeezed into an enclave on the western bank of the Tigris River.

However, this has been treated with scepticism given he has frequently been reported killed or wounded over the last three years.

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