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Iraqi forces enter Mosul from the east

In the battle for Mosul, Iraqi forces have entered the eastern limits of the city and reached the edge of the southern city of Hammam al-Alil. The UN fears civilian casualties in the event of a siege.

Irak Kampf um Mossul gegen den IS (picture-alliance/Anadolu Agency/H. Baban)

An Iraqi tank moves toward Mosul in the campaign to retake the city from the Islamic State.

Troops attempting to take the Iraqi city of Mosul from the control of the "Islamic State" (IS) militant group continue to make territorial gains, military officials said Thursday. A military statement said that Iraqi forces have halted at the edge of the city of Hammam al-Alil - which lies roughly 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of Mosul - while an elite unit of soldiers has breached the eastern side of Mosul proper.

Colonel Dureed Saeed told DPA news agency that forces have succeeded during their advance in liberating four villages to the south of Mosul, killing several IS fighters in the process.

The battle to recapture Mosul from the Islamic State began on October 17, lead by the Iraqi military and supported by a US-led coalition as well as local militias. The city is considered the last major stronghold in Iraq for the jihadist militant group, which makes claim to territory in North Africa and the Middle East, especially in the war-torn countries of Iraq and Syria.

As Iraqi forces pause on the outskirts of the IS-controlled Hammam al-Alil, the UN has said that it has “grave concerns” for the safety of the city’s 25,000 residents. The UN cited evidence that the IS plans to use civilians as human shields in airstrikes and the advance of ground-troops.

Nearly 42,000 people have fled Mosul because of intensifing fighting in the area, the International Organization for Migration reported Wednesday.

 ae/kms (AP, Reuters, dpa) 

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