The city of Mosul still remains a hotbed for Islamic insurgency and military operations, as the anti-ISIL push continues after a one-day pause, amid growing concerns over escalating civilian death toll as fierce fighting spreads to the city’s most densely populated areas. According to Al Jazeera, an estimated 750,000 civilians in Western Mosul still remained trapped under Islamic State Influence. The Islamic State’s brutal rule and harsh intolerance terrorized the residents and left many to face extremely difficult living standards; food, water, electricity became incredibly scarce. The offense was briefly put on hold after local officials and residents in west Mosul said suspected US-led coalition air raids last week had killed scores of civilians in the ISIL-held al-Jadida district.
Once a thriving trading hub and center for higher learning, the city has remained in great peril since 2014 when the Sunni Muslim fighters of the Islamic State of the Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) seized the city with relative ease. Security forces on Saturday did not permit journalists to get where the strikes were said to have taken place, but the coalition admitted that it had struck the area on March 17th, and will be investigating the reports of the civilian deaths. Details pertaining to what exactly happened are difficult to confirm as Iraqi forces continue to battle with ISIL to recapture the heavily populated parts of the western half of Mosul, where the armed group held its last stronghold in Iraq. Witnesses and local officials said more than 200 bodies were pulled from the collapsed building after a coalition air raid. However, the Iraqi army is keen to state that there was no sign that the destroyed structure had been hit by a strike – blaming its collapse on booby traps set by the ISIL instead.
The US-backed offensive to drive ISIL out of Mosul has now reached its sixth month and succeeded in capturing most of the city. The Iraqi government announced that eastern Mosul had been recaptured from the extremists, but residents still report almost daily fighting in some areas, alongside the aforementioned living conditions. In western Mosul, the Iraqi army advances have stuttered in the past two weeks as the city’s narrow streets prevent extensive use of armor and impedes maneuverability, making it essentially a death trap for Iraqi troops. Reports of ISIL members using civilians as human shields also heeds on the side of caution. The battle for western Mosul is extremely tricky and volatile and ultimately will result in a lot of bloodshed from both parties involved. As the Iraqi troops plot to seize the city, the ISIL stronghold only grows stronger. More news to follow as the battle continues.
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