Mosul, IRAQ — The number of Islamic State fighters remaining in western Mosul’s Old City stands at 500, an officer from the Iraqi Federal Police forces said Friday as security operations proceed towards the strategic enclave.
Radio Sawa quoted Lt. Cap. Abdulah Taha saying that IS fighters have been shifting locations swiftly across the Old City’s narrow streets and houses in order to give impression to assaulting troops that their numbers were much higher.
On Friday, the Federal Police also said in a statement it killed Islamic State’s Hisbah (vigilantism) official in western Mosul, nicknamed Abu Abdul-Rahman, but did not identify his nationality. It also said forces took over 40 percent of Zanjili district, one area leading to the Old City.
The service also posted a video of a parking lot containing several armored vehicles used by the extremist group in its battles.
Iraqi forces retook eastern Mosul in January and have taken more than 90 percent of the western side since another offensive was launched for that region in February.
Since late April, Iraqi forces took up a northwestern axis for its operations heading towards the Old City, having besieged the the area from the south for weeks. Troops are currently bombarding IS locations at al-Zanjili, Shefa and Sihha districts which surround the Old City. Forces are eyeing the Nuri al-Kabir Mosque where the group’s supreme leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared the establishment of a “caliphate” in Iraq and neighboring Syria.
Nearly 200.000 civilians are thought to be stranded inside the area under IS siege, and are regularly shot dead once trying to flee, according to government and aid agencies.