Iraqi Forces Gain Foothold In Northwest Mosul

Iraqi Forces Gain Foothold In Northwest Mosul

 Iraqi forces pushed further into Mosul from the north, as a new push to speed up efforts to dislodge Islamic State continues.

The militants are now besieged in the northwestern corner of Mosul which includes the historic Old City, the medieval Grand al-Nuri Mosque, and its landmark leaning minaret where their black flag has been flying since June 2014.

Footage taken by a drone operated by the Iraqi 9th Armoured Division over the northwestern suburb of Musherfa and seen by Reuters, showed the militants had scant defenses there.

Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, a spokesman for the joint operations command, told Reuters that the militants didn't have time to make barriers and that the advance has been good.

ISIS militants captured Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, when they swept across the country's north in the summer of 2014. Iraqi forces have gradually clawed back territory since then, and launched a massive operation to retake Mosul in October last year.

With the battle entering the densely populated areas of western Mosul, civilian casualties are becoming more at risk. The United Nations says several hundred civilians have been killed in during the offensive, and residents say ISIS militants are using them as human shields.