Iraqi forces advance into Mosul’s Old City, close in on historical mosque

Iraqi government forces, backed by allied fighters from Popular Mobilization Units, have gained more ground in a fresh offensive launched against Daesh terrorists in Mosul’s Old City, trying to fully liberate the terror group’s last bastion in the Arab country.

Lieutenant General Raed Shakir Jawdat, the commander of the federal police, announced that Iraqi forces had advanced at least 200 meters deeper into the Old City after they launched their operation on Sunday morning from Qadheeb al-Ban area in western Mosul.

“Federal police snipers stationed on the roofs of buildings and seized control of the perimeter around the al-Hadba minaret [of the historical Great Mosque of al-Nuri] and targeted the suspicious vehicles and armed persons,” Iraq’s Arabic-language al-Sumaria television network quoted Jawdat as saying.

The Sunday advance broke a month-old stalemate between the two sides as Daesh terrorists are holding out in the densely populated Old City, where army tanks and heavy vehicles are incapable of passing through its narrow and maze-like streets.

Mosul’s al-Nuri mosque is highly symbolic because it was there that leader of the Daesh Takfiri terrorist group, Ibrahim al-Samarrai, also known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared himself the so-called caliphate of the terror group, shortly after the flashpoint city fell to terrorists in June 2014 and became their de facto capital in the Arab country.