Mosul Battle: Iraqi troops face wave of suicide bombers
Iraqi troops attempting to recapture the last ISIS-held quarter of Mosul, the Old City, have been met by fierce clashes and a series of suicide-bombings. The battle for Mosul, ISIS' de-facto capital in Iraq, is in its final stages. Iraqi troops are confident the battle will end soon. The US-backed offensive for Mosul was launched in October 2016. ISIS had seized Mosul in 2014.
Iraq recaptures Mosul mosque, declares end of ISIS caliphate
On June 29, Iraqi government forces recaptured the Mosul mosque from where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared his caliphate in 2014. The 850-year-old Grand al-Nuri Mosque's recapture represented a symbolic victory for Iraqi troops. The Iraqi military declared an end to the caliphate following the mosque's recapture. ISIS fighters had earlier blown up the mosque.
Who all are fighting to 'liberate' Mosul from ISIS
The offensive for Mosul involves an alliance of thousands of Iraqi security personnel, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, Sunni Arab tribesmen and Shia militiamen. The offensive is backed by US-led coalition airstrikes and military advisers. In January 2017, the Iraqi government announced the complete "liberation" of eastern Mosul. However, western Mosul, known as the Old City, features narrow winding streets making fighting difficult.
ISIS increasingly using women/teenage girls as suicide bombers
"The fighting is becoming harder every day because of the nature of the Old City," an Iraqi counter-terrorism official said. Another official said: "The enemy has been using suicide bombers, especially women, for the past three days… Before that, they were using snipers and bombs more." Iraqi troops have ordered women fleeing Mosul to remove their veils to prevent such attacks.
Iraqi military says 'victory in Mosul is near'
Mosul is now believed to be home to no more than 300 militants, compared to 6,000 during the offensive's start in October 2016, according to the Iraqi military. Iraqi military Brigadier General Yahya Rasool said "victory is very near" while another commander estimates that "the battle will end in five days to a week."