Iraqi government forces besieged ISIS militants around Mosul’s Old City on Thursday, edging closer to the historic mosque from where the group’s leader declared a caliphate nearly three years ago.
The militants, holed up in houses and darting through alleyways, resisted with sniper fire, suicide attacks and car bombs.
Though heavy rain hampered the advance, Federal Police and rapid response unit troops reached points about 500 m (yards) from the centuries-old al-Nuri Mosque by Thursday morning.
The black extremist flag was clearly visible draped from its famous leaning minaret.
The government forces have made significant gains in recent days in a battle that started in October, seizing a main bridge over the Tigris river and closing in on the mosque.
“We are holding positions we took yesterday. There is a lot of resistance in that area with snipers and car bombs,” Federal Police Major General Haider Dhirgham told Reuters.
The capture of al-Nuri Mosque would be a huge symbolic victory as well as a concrete gain.
“It’s important for them, it’s where they declared their state,” Dhirgham said, speaking at a police forward base as refugees trudged through the muddy streets and wrecked houses.
نستخدم ملفات الكوكيز لنسهل عليك استخدام مواقعنا الإلكترونية ونكيف المحتوى والإعلانات وفقا لمتطلباتك واحتياجاتك الخاصة، لتوفير ميزات وسائل التواصل الاجتماعية ولتحليل حركة المرور لدينا...اعرف أكثر