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Iraqi forces capture more of IS' shrinking Mosul enclave

Once an IS stronghold, Mosul is falling to Iraqi forces [AFP]

Date of publication: 3 June, 2017

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One of the last four districts of Mosul still under IS control fell to the Iraqi army on Friday, as the group's self-declared 'caliphate' continues to crumble.
One of four Mosul districts still under the control of Islamic State group militants was captured by Iraqi troops on Friday, as pro-Baghdad troops continue their offensive on the jihadis' shrinking enclave.

Sihha district fell to Iraqi crack Counter Terrorism Service units on Friday after a week of heavy fighting, leaving IS in control of just the old city, Zanjili and medical city in western Mosul.

Iraqi forces are within striking distance of Mosul's iconic Grand al-Nuri Mosque where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the formation a "caliphate" in 2014, in the militant group's territories in Syria and Iraq.

Dozens of IS fighters have barricaded themselves in houses and hideouts around the mosque to make a final stand against Iraqi forces.

"[IS] fighters know that the mosque is the most important target and they are preparing for a major battle there," government Hisham al-Hashemi told al-Jazeera.

Around 200,000 civilians remain trapped in IS-held areas of Mosul, living in appalling conditions while militants shoot dead anyone who attempting the dangerous route of the city.

Seven civilians were killed on Friday to IS shelling, as the militants made a desperate bid to escape Zanjili neighbourhood.

IS faces total collapse in Iraq, following an Iraqi army offensive on the city in October, after other victories for Baghdad and Kurdish forces in Anbar and Mosul provinces. 

Iraqi militias have reached the border with Syria, cutting off the last hopes for the militants of a retreat from Iraq.

Kurdish forces in Syria have also started their siege on the group's self-declared "capital" Raqqa, with an offensive on the city expected at any time.

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