Iraq troops push into last 'Islamic State' bastion in Mosul

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A diplomatic source aware of the incident said two of the journalists were seriously wounded, and a third freelance reporter, was mildly injured.

The French journalists, work for France 2 TV, the Kurdistan24.net newsite reported. Al-Asadi said the troops "will be very careful" to protect the civilians.

"Penetrating was very hard". Surrounded by Iraqi forces on three sides and blocked on the other by the Tigris River that runs through Mosul, the jihadists are cornered.

Iraqi forces members, consisting of the Iraqi federal police and the elite Rapid Response Division, patrol in the Shifa neighborhood, in western Mosul, on June 17, 2017, where they are battling the last members of the Takfiri Daesh terrorist group in the city.

From a military point of view, the geographical format of the area is a nightmare: a narrow maze of heavy streets, heavily populated and hard to use in operations.

"For a heart-breakingly high number, it was simply too late; they died soon after reaching us", said Dr Julia Schürch, an emergency room specialist based there.

In recent days, Islamic State snipers have cut down hundreds of residents fleeing the carnage around them, even as terrified families struggle to dodge airstrikes and artillery fire. About 195,000 have since returned to their homes.

As the sun rose, a massive barrage shrouded parts of the Old City in smoke.

IS also faces defeat in its Syrian stronghold of Raqqa, almost three years after seizing large swathes of territory in both countries.

The fight for the Old City is the final major fight of an eight-month campaign to drive the militants from Iraq's second largest city.

The historic district of winding alleyways is the last pocket of Mosul under jihadist control - but the fight to free the city, once the jewel in the so-called caliphate's crown, has been long and bloody.

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In this stunning video that's going viral, an American aid worker dodges ISIS gunfire while running to rescue a young girl who was pinned down in the Iraqi city of Mosul.

The militants are moving house to house through holes knocked in inner walls to avoid air surveillance, said Major-General Sami al-Arithi of the Counter Terrorism Service.

On Monday, Gen Maan al-Saadi of the Counter-Terrorism Service told AFP news agency that that his troops had made progress in the Farouq district, but that resistance had been "fierce".

The Iraqi army estimates the number of Islamic State fighters at no more than 300, down from almost 6,000 in the city when the battle of Mosul started on October 17.

A USA -led worldwide coalition is providing air and ground support to the campaign.

IS overran Mosul and swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014, declaring a self-styled "caliphate" over areas it ruled.

The campaign has proved to be longer and tougher than anyone anticipated, with hundreds of casualties among Iraqi security forces and civilians, many caused by US -led airstrikes in the densely populated city.

Mukhtar said the Islamic State launched at least 10 vehicle bomb attacks to halt the advance of forces.

Iraqi government forces retook eastern Mosul in January then a month later began the offensive on the western side where bout 200,000 civilians remain trapped behind ISIS lines.

Some 150,000 civilians are believed to be trapped inside west Mosul's Old City, where the terrorists intend to use them as human shields, according to United Nations deputy special representative and humanitarian coordinator in Iraq Lise Grande, who spoke to AP on Friday.

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