Iraqi forces close in on Mosul's main government buildings, commander says

  • Iraqi forces close in on Mosul's main government buildings, commander says

Iraqi forces close in on Mosul's main government buildings, commander says

Iraqi forces have launched a new push in their battle to capture western Mosul from so-called Islamic State.

Also last week, 12 Mosul residents, inlcuding five children, were treated for injuries from a suspected chemical attack, the International Committee of the Red Cross said.

It said four of the patients were showing "severe signs associated with exposure to a blister agent".

USA -backed Iraqi forces began a major offensive on February 19 to remove Islamic State militants from the western section of Mosul, nearly a month after they forced militants out of the eastern part of the city.

"This is awful", Lise Grande, the United Nations humanitarian coordinator in Iraq said.

"This is disgusting. If the alleged use of chemical weapons is confirmed, this is a serious violation of worldwide humanitarian law and a war crime, regardless of who the targets or the victims of the attacks are", she said in a statement.

Rapid Response units and Counter Terrorism Service forces launched a fresh push into the city on Sunday after a 48-hour pause due to bad weather that hampered air surveillance, facilitating counter-attacks by the militants.

In Iraq, the offensive by US-backed Iraqi forces to retake west Mosul from IS has displaced more than 45,000 people in little more than a week, the United Nations migration agency said.

Isis fighters had "some mortar [teams] and snipers positioned inside homes", said Maj Ali Talib of the Iraqi special forces, explaining that US-led coalition airstrikes had helped destroy some of the Isis defences, but clashes were ongoing.

Defeating ISIL in Mosul would effectively wipe out the Iraqi wing of the militant group, which took over large swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014.

Iraqi forces launched attacks against ISIS-held neighborhoods in western Mosul from three points on Sunday morning.

The patients were exposed to the chemical agents in the eastern side of Mosul.

With the remaining Islamic State units retreating deeper into the historic heart of the city, street-by-street fighting is imminent.