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Iraq Warns IS: Surrender or Die

Smoke billows from the positions of IS militants after an airstrike in western Mosul, Iraq, on June 19.Smoke billows from the positions of IS militants after an airstrike in western Mosul, Iraq, on June 19.

Iraqi forces pushed deeper into Mosul’s Old City on Monday after launching a final assault on the self-styled Islamic State terrorist group, warning civilians to stay inside and telling militants to “surrender or die”.

Iraqi forces launched the operation on Sunday to retake the district, the last part of Iraq’s second city still held by IS after a months-long offensive, AFP reported.

Commanders say the militants are putting up fierce resistance and there are fears for more than 100,000 civilians believed to be trapped in the maze of narrow streets.

Staff Major General Ma’an al-Sa’adi, a top commander in Iraq’s elite Counter-Terrorism Service, told AFP that heavy fighting had resumed at dawn on Monday.

“We pushed deeper into the Old City and took control of new areas in the Faruq neighborhood,” he said.

The various Iraqi forces pushing into the Old City made modest gains, as IS fighters rained mortar fire on their positions and offered stiff resistance.

“Penetrating was very difficult. Today the fighting is face to face,” Sa’adi said.

The push into Mosul’s historic heart on the west bank of Tigris River marks the culmination of a campaign launched in October by Iraqi forces to retake IS’s last major urban stronghold in the country.

The US-led coalition battling IS in Iraq and neighboring Syria has backed the offensive, including with months of airstrikes.

The loss of Mosul would mark the effective end of the Iraqi portion of the cross-border “caliphate” that IS declared in summer 2014 after seizing swathes of Iraq and Syria.

The loudspeakers blared messages to IS fighters, telling them: “You have only this choice: surrender or die”.

Late on Sunday, Iraqi forces dropped nearly 500,000 leaflets over the city, warning that they had “started attacking from all directions”.

The leaflets urge civilians to “stay away from open places and ... exploit any opportunity that arises during the fighting” to escape.

 

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