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Surprise attack sees Iraqi forces advance near key Mosul mosque

Surprise attack sees Iraqi forces advance near key Mosul mosque

"On Sunday, April 2, Al Qayara hospital handed over 22 bodies, including women and children, who were evacuated by Iraqi Forces", the Iraqi Observatory for Human Rights' (IOHR) stated Wathiq Al-Hamdani, the police chief of Nineveh province, had said in a phone conversation.

An Iraqi command spokesman said Sunday that Western Mosul's Old City district, a strategic ISIS militants' bastion, has become entirely encircled by Iraqi government forces.

Mosul, the largest city in northern Iraq, was captured by the ultra-hardline Sunni Muslim fighters in mid 2014.

Two special forces units - the Counter-Terrorism Service and the Rapid Response Division - have spearheaded the fighting inside Mosul, while soldiers and police have also taken part.

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The fighting has killed several thousands among civilians and fighters on both sides, according to aid organizations.

Some 400,000 people are trapped in the area and more than 300,000 have fled fighting since the operation started in October, officials say.

However, U.S. -led coalition forces have made major gains against the extremist group, having liberated eastern Mosul. He said the area will be cleared from militants soon.

"The bombs used by the Iraqi air force in Mosul are laser-guided and used when we ascertain the nature of the target", Hammah said, Baghdad Post reported.

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The advance has hardly moved for more than a month, though, as the militants are holding out in the densely populated Old City in western Mosul, where tanks and heavy vehicles are not able to operate because of its narrow streets.

The statement says the strikes targeted IS positions in Raqqa and the town of al-Bukamal and village of al-Dishaisha near the Iraqi border.

ISIS militants fired rocket in western Mosul in Iraq.

Ms. Grande pointed out that almost 300,000 civilians have already fled western Mosul and "hundreds of thousands more may in the days and weeks ahead".

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