Iraqi Forces Advance Into Mosul's Old City

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Elite Federal Police and Rapid Response units on Monday resumed their cautious advance on the al-Nuri Mosque in western Mosul's Old City.

"It is awful, Islamic State [Daesh] have destroyed us".

"It is one of the toughest areas, and in fact it is hard, chaotic and very tight, but our forces managed to get out of their vehicles and enter the Old City", Abdulla added.

Mosul, 400 km north of the Iraqi capital of Baghdad, has been under the Daesh control since June 2014, when government forces abandoned their weapons and fled, enabling Daesh militants to take control of parts of Iraq's northern and western regions. Construction of the mosque was completed in the year 1172.

Iraqi army helicopters strafed and rocketed Daesh (ISIS) positions inside Mosul's Old City Sunday as ground troops fought fierce street battles to close in on the strategic prize of the Al-Nuri Mosque. "And secondly, the area is hard because it is in an ancient neighborhood and we use less heavy weapons".

Almost 100,000 Iraqis have fled western Mosul over the past three weeks, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) said on Wednesday.

United Nations reports that around 255,000 people have been displaced from Mosul and surrounding areas since October, including more than 100,000 since the latest military campaign in western Mosul began last month.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, announced the start of an offensive on February 19 to drive extremist militants out of the western side of Mosul.

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