Iraq's Shi'ite paramilitaries squeeze Islamic State towards Syria border

Iraq's Shi'ite paramilitaries squeeze Islamic State towards Syria border

Iraq's Shi'ite paramilitaries squeeze Islamic State towards Syria border

A displaced Iraqi holds her baby while she moves to a safe place as Iraqi forces battle with Islamic State militants, in western Mosul, Iraq May 10, 2017. It still controls large swathes of Syria and some territory in Iraq near the Syrian border.

There are eight neighborhoods left in west Mosul for forces to fully capture the city, Rudaw reported. Mosul is divided by the Tigris River, and while the series of bridges crossing it have either been damaged or destroyed, they would provide a link between the Iraqi government-held east and Daesh-held west Mosul if they can be repaired or otherwise bridged.

US -backed Iraqi forces were moving to surround Mosul's Old City on Thursday, a week after launching a fresh push to drive Islamic State militants from areas they still hold.

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The Iraqi military said in a statement its air force was supporting the operation by the paramilitary groups known collectively as Hashid Shaabi or Popular Mobilisation Forces (PMF).

"The multi-axis advance. has presented the enemy with more dilemmas than they can react to", US-led coalition spokesman John Dorrian told reporters during a press conference.

Islamic State fighters are shooting people who try to escape, although some men have been allowed to go in exchange for taking militants' families with them, said 40-year-old Umm Abdul Rahman, who fled the Musherfa district on Tuesday night.

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A handful of injured civilians were evacuated from the front line, and a woman who appeared to have lost both her legs was rushed away in an armoured vehicle.

With ISIS' casualties mounting and escape routes to the militants' territory in neighboring Syria narrowing, the group that controlled almost half of Iraq in 2014 has put up fierce resistance in defending the collapsing lines of the less than seven percent that remains.

Iraq's Migration and Displacement Ministry says that 467,000 people have fled their areas in western Mosul since late February when an operation began to defeat the extremist group there, with 425,000 still living in the camps.

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Pro-government forces have since retaken most towns and cities in Anbar, but the jihadists still control areas near the Syrian border and have desert hideouts from which they harass federal forces.

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