Iraqi Forces Battle Their Way Into Heart Of Mosul's Old City
U.S.-backed Iraqi forces advanced slowly along narrow back alleys in the Old City of Mosul on Friday (June 23) as Islamic State (ISIS) militants defended their remaining positions in the city.
The fighting in the Old City is becoming the deadliest battle in the months-long offensive to capture Mosul, ISIS de facto capital in Iraq.
More than 100,000 civilians, of whom half are children, are trapped in its old fragile houses with little food, water, medicine, no electricity and limited access to clinics.
Militants destroyed the Grand al-Nuri Mosque on Wednesday (June 21) evening along with its famous minaret, affectionately called al-Hadba, or "the hunchback" by Iraqis.
The al-Nuri Mosque, where the landmark al-Hadba minaret has towered over Mosul for more than 800 years, was once significant to the extremists group, as its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, announced the establishment of ISIS on June 10, 2014.
The ISIS militants have been surrounded and withdrawn from the nearby areas, however, no evidence was found to prove fighting was any less fearsome.
Moving under heavy gunfire, members of Iraq's federal police moved through passages dug between houses firing weapons and using hand grenades, as loud bursts of gunfire echoed across the Old City's maze of alleyways and narrow streets.