Iraqi Forces Plan 'Careful' Advance In Mosul's Old City, Says Iraqi General

Iraqi Forces Plan 'Careful' Advance In Mosul's Old City, Says Iraqi General

 Iraqi forces are using siege and stealth tactics to drive Islamic State (ISIS) militants out of Mosul's Old City, an Iraqi general said on Monday (April 24), as his forces sought to minimize casualties among hundreds of thousands of people trapped in the cramped, historic neighborhood.

"We adopted the tactic of besieging or encircling because of the nature of the area, its urban nature and its houses. Most houses in the Old City are very old and its streets and alleyways are very narrow. So, to avoid civilian losses we are using siege, but that does not mean we will not enter the Old City," said a commander of Iraqi counter-terrorism units in Mosul, Lieutenant General Abdul Ghani al-Assadi.

Government forces have surrounded the militants in the northwestern quarter, including the Old City, home to the Grand al-Nuri mosque, where their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared a "caliphate" over parts of Iraq and Syria.

“This is a guerrilla war not a conventional one so we cannot estimate how long it will take. It is an unconventional war, so I can not estimate how long it will take and be accurate, because Daesh is fighting house to house," al-Assadi said.

The ultra-hardline Sunni Muslim fighters are countering the offensive using booby traps, suicide motorcycle attacks, sniper and mortar fire and, occasionally, shells filled with toxic gas .

The Iraqi military estimate the number of ISIS fighters who remain in Mosul at 200 to 300, mostly foreigners, compared with about 6,000 when the offensive started.