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Hundreds of civilians killed, injured in Mosul's Old City

26 June 2017

On the Eastern side of the city children were seen gathering in town squares near the eastern side of the city playing on swings while others played with toy guns and rifles.

Youngsters had previously been encouraged to train on weapons and IS even changed text books to reflect its military ideology.

The explosion destroyed another piece of priceless Iraqi cultural heritage but also sent a strong message to USA -led coalition forces and Iraqi troops closing in on the last stronghold of IS, in Mosul's Old City neighborhood.

Iraqi forces took the eastern side from Islamic State in January, after 100 days of fighting, and started attacking the western side in February.

The federal police in the southern part of the old city continued their slow advance in the areas of Ra's al-Jadda, Bab al-Jadid and Bab al-Beidh, and are approaching the IS redoubt in al-Khazraj area in the heart of the old city, Rasoul added.

On Wednesday, Islamic State extremists blew up the Old City's ancient al-Nuri Mosque, where the radical group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, made his only public appearance in 2014.

General Abdul Ghani al-Assadi said they're starting to face female ISIS fighters on the battlefield for the first time.

On Sunday the Joint Operations Command coordinating the war against the jihadists said some IS fighters "tried to infiltrate into the Al-Tanak" neighbourhood in west Mosul.

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Iraqi forces backed by the USA military are making a final push to drive ISIS out of a city now in ruins.

The population density of the Old City of Mosul and its narrow streets make the latest push a very risky and complicated operation.

According to Abdelghani al-Assadi, a top commander in the Counter-Terrorism Service that has spearheaded the fighting against IS since 2014, around 8,000 people have managed to flee the Old City since an assault was launched on June 18.

The U.S. -trained urban warfare units are leading the fight in the narrow alleyways of the historic district which lies by the western bank of the Tigris.

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

Aid organisations say Islamic State has stopped many from leaving, using them as human shields.

The United Nations voiced alarm on Saturday at the rising death toll among civilians in the heavily populated Old City, saying as many as 12 were killed and hundreds injured on Friday.

Iraqi authorities are hoping to declare victory in the city on the Muslim holiday of Eid (which marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan) during the next few days. As militants continue to be ejected from the city, there is continued hope that the battle to recapture the remaining areas will soon be over.