Iraqi forces recapture new neighborhood from IS militants

An Iraqi boy walks past a building destroyed during the fighting between Iraqi forces and Islamic states militants in Qayyara Iraq

Thomson Reuters

Iraqi Federal Police fires his rifle at ISIS militants' positions at Bab al Jadid district in the old city of Mosul, Iraq, March 26, 2017.

"The [Iraqi] forces killed ISIS leader called Mahmoud Ali Mahmoud Matar al-Hadidi during clashes with the group members in the Old City", lieutenant General Shaker Jawdat said.

While admitting that battles in the western side of Mosul proved more hard that those in the east, Iraqi and coalition commanders said IS's influence was receding as many top leaders were either counted dead or tracked escaping the battlefield.

Iraqi Kurdish forces were involved in the initial days of the operation but stopped short of the city, while pro-government paramilitary forces were tasked with moving on the IS-held town of Tal Afar, west of Mosul.

- December 29: Government troops end a two-week pause and launch the second part of their assault on east Mosul.

According to the statement, there are still some 500,000 people trapped in their homes in the IS-controlled neighborhoods in the western side of Mosul, including 400,000 in the densely populated old city center.

"The [IS] terrorist gangs tried to block the advance of our forces by using shells filled with toxic chemical material, but the effect was limited", Iraq's Joint Operations Command said on April 16.

"Mosul has pushed us to our operational limits", said Grande.

Losing these areas would still not eliminate the threat of bombings and hit-and-run attacks by the jihadists.

Many came to Iraq in the 1980s in search of a better life as their own country exploded into a civil war that triggered a legacy of violence, poverty and political struggle that continues today.

The UN said last month that 12 people, including women and children, had been treated for possible exposure to chemical weapons agents in Mosul.

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