Iraqi government forces invaded on Wednesday the vicinity of a medieval mosque in western Mosul where Islamic State’s self-proclaimed “caliphate” was first declared in 2014, military media said.
The Defense Ministry’s War Media Cell said forces destroyed a weapons reservoir and killed ten militants near the Grand Nuri al-Kabeer Mosque in the Old City, where Islamic State’s supreme leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivered a sermon declaring the establishment of the group’s rule in Iraq and Syria.
Three other militants were pounded by army warplanes inside their vehicle on the district’s outskirts, according to the statement.
Akhbar Alaan quoted military sources saying the troops were searching for senior IS leaders hiding among civilians they had brought to the Old City from neighboring districts. It added that the forces had reached al-Farouq street which leads to the mosque.
The website also said it received information that IS militants had executed 150 civilians who tried to flee towards security forces as they approached the mosque.
Iraqi government forces, backed by a U.S.-led coalition, took over eastern Mosul from IS in January after three months of fighting, later launching another offensive in mid February to retake the western side of the city.