kazanherald.com January 22, 2018

Troops Turn ISIS's New Deadly Weapon Against Them

05 March 2017, 04:59 | Darin Schmidt

Most of western Mosul is still under Islamic State group control despite a handful of recent gains on the city's southwestern edge by Iraqi forces over the past two weeks.

However, west Mosul, with its narrow streets and a heavy population of between 750,000 and 800,000, appears to be a bigger challenge to the Iraqi forces, according to United Nations estimates.

Iraqi armed forces meanwhile said they had captured another district as they push towards the densely packed old city center where the fighting is expected to become tougher.

Their advance in western Mosul paused over the past 48 hours because of bad weather. That would be the highest rate since the Iraqi military's Mosul operation began last October.

Iraqi troops today sealed off the last major road out of Mosul trapping thousands of Islamic State fighters inside the besieged stronghold.

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

"The White House will begin reviewing the recommendations", said the official on condition of anonymity.

But the number who have fled is only a small fraction of the 750,000 people who are believed to have stayed on in west Mosul under Islamic State group rule. Food supplies are running very low, and some families say they can not find any food at all.

"The stories of the survivors are heart-breaking", said Thomas Lothar Weiss, Iraq Chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in a press release.

"But we had to flee, we had run out of food".

The Norwegian Refugee Council said on Sunday it had received reports that some people were surviving on bird feed.

On Tuesday, a combination of Iraqi forces - spearheaded by the US -trained Iraqi Counter Terrorism Service - surrounded the district of Wadi al-Hajar.

Some are unable to leave because IS uses them as human shields, while others decide against exposing themselves to crossfire or leaving their property unprotected.

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