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Troops launch assault on Mosul's Old City
19 June 2017, 12:46 | Israel Caldwell
"I think the chance of us dying on our way out of the city is higher than the chance of us dying in our houses", the resident said, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of Islamic State reprisals.
"Not long after that, the Iraqi special forces, the regular army and the federal police from the north and the south of the Old City launched [this offensive] to retake this last part of Mosul that remains under ISIL control", he said. "We are proud to stand with them", McGurk posted on his official Twitter page.
Three years after they went missing, the government on Friday said that 39 Indian construction workers mostly from Punjab, who were taken hostage by Islamic State militants in Iraq's war-torn Mosul, were alive and "everything possible" was being done to ensure their safe return.
Daesh is also under pressure in its last Syrian stronghold, Raqqa, where USA -backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), dominated by PKK terrorist group's Syrian wing People's Protection Units (YPG), have also been advancing in an offensive to retake the city.
The Old City is the most populated part of Mosul and 100,000 civilians are still trapped inside, according to estimates from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
IS overran Mosul and swathes of Iraq and Syria in 2014, declaring a self-styled "caliphate" over areas it ruled.
The Syrian and Iraqi forces met on the borders Sunday, as both have made progress in the battle against the Islamic State (IS) in their respective territories, as the Syrian army is advancing west of the IS de facto capital in northern Syria. Al-Asadi said the troops "will be very careful" to protect the civilians in the densely populated area.
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The loss of Mosul, once the largest city the militants controlled, will strike a huge symbolic blow to Islamic State.
The group is also retreating in Syria, mainly in the face of a USA -backed, Kurdish-led coalition.
The US-backed offensive to retake Mosul is now in its ninth month. Its capital there, Raqqa, is being besieged.
Baghdadi has left the fighting in Mosul and Raqqa to field commanders, to become effectively a fugitive focused on his own survival in the border area between Iraq and Syria.
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