The anti-IS coalition is on the edge of the Old City and close to capturing the third of Mosul's five bridges. But strong resistance from jihadists and bad weather have slowed down the progress of the Iraqi military.
Iraqi forces reportedly made new gains but were also slowed down in their attempt to retake western Mosul on Monday.
State troops have pushed so-called "Islamic State" (IS) militants into Mosul's Old City, having captured territory at the edge of the historic neighborhoods, and just south of the old bridge.
Iraqi forces captured more territory from jihadists on Monday and were searching for jihadists and explosives, news agency AFP reported. Lieutenant General Raed Shakir Jawdat told AFP that troops were working to search and clear territory on the edge of Mosul's Old City.
Jawdat said in that forces were conducting "combing and search operations in the liberated areas of Bab al-Toub, searching for traps and mines and terrorists hiding among the people."
Rain, resistance slow down troops
According to the General, drones were used to monitor and strike IS.
News agency Reuters reported that the push into western Mosul was stalled on Monday, as state troops faced strong resistance from "IS" snipers and mortar rounds at the border of the Old City.
Heavy rain in the morning reportedly also slowed down fighting on Monday.
"Due to the bad rainy weather, operations have been halted for now. We are facing stiff resistance from the [IS] fighters with sniper shots and mortars," a rapid response unit officer told Reuters.
The battle in Mosul between Iraqi forces and a US-led coalition on one side and "IS" jihadist on the other is expected to slow down in the Old City. The historic part of western Mosul - a warren of narrow streets and closely spaced buildings housing hundreds of thousands of civilians that have remained in the city – makes open battle with larger artillery difficult, requiring ground troops and allowing no large territorial gains at once.
According to Reuters, Iraqi soldiers were only 100 metres from the "Old Bridge" which connects the Old City with the eastern side of Mosul on Monday. Eastern Mosul has been under Iraqi government control since January. While "IS" has destroyed all five bridges connecting Eastern and Western Mosul, the remaining structure can be used by Iraqi military as a foundation for a temporary structure to transport military equipment and troops over the Tigris from East to West. Iraqi forces have already captured the two most southern bridges.
West Mosul is the most-populated urban area still held by "IS", followed by Syria's Raqa, which has also been targeted by the US-led campaign against the Islamist extremists.
More than 68,000 people have fled west Mosul since the beginning of the offensive on February 25, according to the International Organization for Migration. But over 600,000 people are believed to have remained in western Mosul amid the fighting.
mb/bw (AFP, Reuters)