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Mosul: Clashes continue as troops target IS 'holdouts'

Mosul: Clashes continue as troops target IS 'holdouts'”

The U.S. -led coalition has congratulated Iraqi forces on retaking Mosul from the Islamic State group after Iraq's prime minister declared victory in the northern city.

The retaking of the devastated city after almost nine months of fighting signals the jihadist group's "days in Iraq and Syria are numbered", Trump said in a statement, praising Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.

U.S. Central Command said that "while there are still areas of the Old City of Mosul that must be back-cleared of explosive devices and possible ISIS fighters in hiding", Iraqi forces "have Mosul now firmly under their control".

"From here, from the heart of the liberated and free Mosul, by the sacrifices of the Iraqis from all the provinces, we declare the great victory for all of Iraq and Iraqis", Haider al-Abadi announced in Mosul.

After eight months of hard urban warfare, Iraqi military forces on June 29 captured the Mosul mosque at the heart of the strategic northern city, which Daesh had declared its de facto capital.

That final push poses significant danger to civilians in the area, whom the jihadists may use as human shields.

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The battle for Mosul killed thousands and displaced more than 897,000 people.

The report, which covered the first five months of 2017, noted how the militants moved civilians with them around Mosul, prevented them from escaping and created battle spaces with dense civilian populations, while Iraqi forces and the coalition "failed to adapt their tactics".

The fight grew tougher when security forces entered the densely populated Old City on the western bank of the Tigris River, which divides the city, and intense street-to-street fighting followed.

Zeid described Mosul's fall as the "turning point" in the conflict against IS, but warned that the group continues to subject people to "daily horrors" in its remaining strongholds of Tal Afar, west of Mosul, and in Hawijah, north of Baghdad.

Amnesty International says the US-led military coalition in Iraq has violated international humanitarian law and may amount to war crimes in the battle for Mosul.

But on Tuesday morning, coalition spokesman Col Joe Scrocca told the BBC: "Right now, there are a handful of holdout ISIS [Islamic State group] terrorists that the Iraqi security forces are still trying to root out of the Old City".



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