Iraqi forces have launched a huge operation to kick Islamic State out of Mosul
The fall of the city would effectively mark the end of the extremists’ control of large parts of Iraq and Syria, declared a “caliphate” nearly three years ago by IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Leaflets were dropped by the Iraqi air force on Friday urging residents to flee from the final enclave, which includes the Old City and districts on the western bank of the Tigris river.
The military push is designed to deal a terminal blow to the extremists’ morale and capacity for military action.
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Chilling photographs released from Mosul Thu, March 16, 2017
U.S.-backed Iraqi forces push further into the Islamic State-held western half of Mosul, capturing a damaged bridge which could link up their units on either side of the Tigris river
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An Iraqi special forces soldier checks men for explosive belts as they cross from Islamic State controlled part of Mosul to Iraqi forces controlled part of Mosul
Iraqi forces during clashes with Islamic State fighters in Mosul
Coinciding with the start of the month of Ramadan, prime targets include the medieval Grand al-Nuri mosque and its leaning minaret, where Islamic State’s black flag is flown.
The US-backed offensive on Mosul, now in its eighth month, has taken longer than planned.
The militants are dug in among civilians and are using suicide cars and motorcycles.