Iraq forces repel IS Mosul counter-attack

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USA. -trained urban warfare units were channeling their onslaught along two perpendicular streets that converge in the heart of the Old City, aiming to isolate the jihadist insurgents in four pockets.

"Fighting is very intense in the Old City and civilians are at extreme, nearly unimaginable risk".

Iraq's prime minister has said its destruction amounted to an acknowledgment of defeat by Islamic State.

"Events involving the possible deliberate use of toxic chemicals to cause harms to Iraqi men, women and children increased substantially in northern Iraq in 2016", World Health Organization spokesman Tarik Jasarevic said. A curfew was in force over western Mosul, a Reuters correspondent reported. Civilians who did not abide by the group's strict rules were subjected to lashing at the very least, but also beheading and lapidation.

Some were injured and carrying malnourished children. 'My baby only had bread and water for the past eight days, ' said one mother.

According to United Nations reports, some 100,000 civilians are still trapped in the IS-held areas in the old city center and the adjacent al-Shifaa neighborhood.

Around 150,000 civilians are thought to be trapped in the Old City, where conditions are deteriorating.

"From a military perspective, Daesh (Islamic State) is finished", Assadi said.

But hundreds of civilians have been killed in the past month as they tried to flee the Old City.

He estimated that only "a few hundred Daesh fighters" were left in the Old City, using an Arabic acronym for IS.

The offensive to retake Mosul began October 17, led by Iraqi security forces and aided by the Kurdish Peshmerga, a Shiite-led militia, and the USA -led worldwide coalition.

The militants simultaneously blew up the nearby Nuri mosque, where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi gave his first sermon as IS leader in July 2014, his last public appearance to date.

Iraqi troops on Monday captured the al-Faruq quarter, facing the mosque, the military said.

The commander said that later that his forces were capable of liberating the Farouq neighborhood, following fierce battles with the terrorist group. The minaret that leaned like Italy's Tower of Pisa had stood in Mosul for more than 840 years and was known as al-Hadba.

Federal policemen watch Islamic State positions at the frontline during fighting in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, Monday, June 26, 2017.

"We can confirm the al-Nuri mosque was destroyed", the Washington Post reported the US-led worldwide coalition as saying.

Iraqi forces, led by the CTS, have for a week been pressing a perilous assault into the Old City in central Mosul, the last pocket still controlled by the jihadists.

The attack was carried out by three people who detonated explosive belts, killing five, including three policemen, and wounding 19, according to a military statement on Saturday.

The group has carried out sporadic suicide bombings in parts of Mosul using sleeper cells.

In Syria, the insurgents' "capital", Raqqa, is almost encircled by a US-backed, Kurdish-led coalition.

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