Iraq says Islamic State has lost most of the land it seized

Bruno Cirelli
Aprile 19, 2017

Iraqi government forces on Monday gained more ground in the western side of Mosul amid heavy clashes against the Islamic State (IS) militants, the Iraqi military said.

Last month, a suspected coalition airstrike killed scores and injured hundreds in Mosul's western side.

"The territory controlled by ISIS gang terrorists as of March 31, 2017, is 29,903 square kilometers, which is 6.8 percent of Iraq's territory".

The claim comes amid reports that the battle for western Mosul is turning out to be far more hard than the campaign to retake the east.

Meanwhile, the federal police and interior ministry special forces, known as Rapid Response, continued their battles on the southern and western front lines at the edge of the old city center, a security source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

Iraqi forces backed by US-led air strikes have gradually pushed the jihadis out of a string of towns and cities over the past two years, and are now battling the group in Mosul, Iraq's second largest city.

Speaking at the same press conference in Baghdad on Tuesday, the spokesman for the US-led coalition vowed that Iraq would not be abandoned after the recapture of Mosul.

"Once that task is accomplished, the coalition will be here to support our Iraqi partners as they eliminate Daesh from every corner of Iraq", Col. John Dorrian said. "They aren't going anywhere - they will be defeated and the people of Mosul will be free", he said.

In this context the Iraqi general said that the Iraqi forces are relying on infantry forces, in order to avoid civilian casualties.

"We are very careful". The coalition has opened an investigation into a March 17 strike on the Al-Jadida neighborhood of west Mosul that the United Nations said killed at least 140 civilians. "Never. We reject anyone who says that we do, that is not happening, we only target Daesh", he said, using an Arabic acronym for ISIL. "The biggest challenge they face is the civilians".

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