US envoy: Fight to retake Mosul in 'final stages'

2017-05-15 19:22
Iraqi families walk down a road  as they flee Mosul.  (Aris Messins, AFP)

Iraqi families walk down a road as they flee Mosul. (Aris Messins, AFP)

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Mosul - The fight to retake Mosul from the Islamic State group is approaching its "final stages," a senior US official said Monday.

Brett McGurk, special presidential envoy for the global coalition against ISIS, said Iraqi forces are "completely defeating" ISIS in one of the most difficult urban battles since World War II. But local Iraqi officials say they will need more funding from the US and others in the international community to rebuild in territory recently retaken from the extremists.

McGurk spoke to The Associated Press from a water treatment plant south of Mosul where Iraqi forces closely backed by the US-led coalition are slowly closing in on the remaining cluster of ISIS-held neighbourhoods in the city's west.

McGurk's visit comes a week and a half after US-backed Iraqi forces launched a renewed push on the northwestern edge of Mosul in an effort to encircle the old city where ISIS fighters are believed to be holding more than 200 000 civilians hostage as shields.

The operation to retake Mosul from the ISIS was formally launched in October and in January the city's eastern half was declared "fully liberated". While the initial weeks of the Mosul operation were marked with a string of swift territorial gains, the fight for the city's west has devastated infrastructure there and inflicted high civilian casualties.

In March, the US acknowledged its forces launched an airstrike in western Mosul earlier that month that witnesses tell the AP killed more than 100 people. The US has not confirmed that the strike resulted in civilian casualties and the Pentagon is conducting an investigation into the incident.

In a statement on Sunday, a senior Iraqi military commander said government forces launched a new push to drive ISIS from four neighbourhoods in west Mosul.

Lieutenant General Abdul-Amir Rasheed Yar Allah said Iraqi special forces were moving to the al-Eraibi- and al-Rifaie neighbourhoods, while militarised federal police and regular army forces are fighting ISIS in nearby al-Ektisadieen and 17th of July neighbourhoods.

In recent weeks, US-backed Iraqi troops have slowly closed in on a small cluster of neighbourhoods in the city's west.

Read more on:    isis  |  iraq  |  us

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