But retaking the sites are symbolic victories for Iraqi forces and also bring them closer to fully recapturing west Mosul, though tough fighting remains ahead. “Seizing the bridge will help further tighten the noose around Daesh fighters entrenched inside the old city”.
Brett McGurk, the senior USA official in the counter-ISIS coalition, warned Sunday that any jihadists fighters left in Mosul would die their since the ninth Iraqi army division had cut off the last road out of the city and trapped them there.
“This is the plan: We are going to move forward, we are going to fight ISIS house to house to liberate the civilians, but we put a safe sector for the civilian if they want to come to us, ‘” the general said.
“Just last night, the 9th Iraqi army division, up near Badush, just northwest of Mosul, cut off the last road out of Mosul”, Xinhua quoted USA envoy to the anti-IS coalition Brett McGurk as saying.
“Around more than a third of the right bank (west Mosul) is under the control of our units”, Major General Maan Al-Saadi of the elite Counter-Terrorism Service told AFP.
“The enemy has lost its fighting power and its resolve has weakened”.
But Iraqi forces, backed by coalition air strikes and military advisers on the ground, have managed to retake large areas in the past five months.
Tens of thousands of people, mostly civilians, have fled Mosul as an Iraqi coalition recaptured swathes of territory in the eastern part of the city, before launching a new offensive on the western districts.
The offensive comes as part of a wider campaign launched last October to retake the city, which IS overran – along with much of northern and western Iraq – in mid-2014.
The jihadists “are trapped”, said Brett McGurk, the United States envoy to the anti-ISIS coalition.
In Syria the coalition is backing an Arab-Kurdish alliance known as the Syrian Democratic Forces that is pushing toward the jihadists’ de facto capital Raqqa.
“We are waiting for forensic teams and human rights officials to begin unearthing the grave to uncover the whole story of how the ruthless criminal Daesh (Islamic State) killed them in cold blood only because they were from a certain sect”, Nouri said.
Meanwhile, a security source said 11 civilians were killed by a suspected US -led coalition airstrike in western Mosul on Sunday.
However, they will likely make slow headway in the streets and narrow alleyways of the Old City as IS has booby-trapped houses, and government forces will also be fighting amongst civilians, ruling out extensive use of air and artillery support.