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Islamic State counterattacks west Mosul areas captured by Iraq

27 June 2017

Abadi also said "there are only a few areas left from Mosul, and its complete liberation is a matter of a few days". "They regrouped and launched counter-attacks", Staff Lt. Gen. Abdulwahab Al-Saadi told AFP.

Federal forces backed a US-led coalition launched an offensive to retake the country's second city from IS more than eight months ago.

Last week, Isis blew up the city's 12th century Grand Mosque, from which leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the creation of the so-called caliphate after his troops swept across northern Iraq from Syria in the summer of 2014.

On Sunday, Iraq's armed forces blocked a major wave of attacks by Islamic State suicide bombers outside the Old City of Mosul. More than 800,000 residents are thought to have fled their homes in total, braving roadside bombs and sniper fire.

A US -led Arab-Kurdish coalition is closing in on the extremists as well in Raqqa, their final major holdout in Syria.

It has always been an insurgent stronghold, and Islamic State already controlled parts of it before it swept through Iraq in 2014 to take over around a third of the country.

Islamic State retaliated with a triple bombing on a neighborhood in east Mosul, the other side the Tigris River.

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CTS forces surrounded the area, backed by the army and the air force, and "killed numerous IS fighters", a statement said, adding "the situation is now under control". "It will be the final episode", he said.

Those who attempt to flee have to cross some of the most active front lines in three years of war against IS and risk being executed by the jihadists if they fail to escape.

About 350 ISIS fighters, a lot of them non-Iraqis, are defending their remaining stronghold in Mosul's densely populated Old City, an Iraqi general said on Sunday.

As Iraqi forces face counterattacks in areas of already cleared western Mosul, thousands of fleeing people are straining security-screening stations. "The end is going to be very will take days", he said from the Old City.

Assadi remained cautious when asked how much longer the battle might last and said the hardest might be yet to come.

"Daesh are fighting for their lives, so their ability to plan and direct attacks is significantly degraded", Jones said, using an Arabic acronym for the militant group.