In drawn-out battle of Mosul, limits of Iraqi military show


"Right now it's very hard", U.S. Air Force Colonel John Dorrian, a Baghdad-based spokesman for the coalition supporting Iraqi forces, told Reuters by telephone.

ISIS is using the almost 1.5 million remaining civilians in Mosul as human shields against Iraqi and USA attacks.

"They are present in the thousands", said Khanjar who met the forces and their commanders recently adding their presence would assuage widespread fears of revenge.

A healthcare worker said militants had forcibly taken over an office at the clinic and that several had been there at the time of the attack, along with about 50 patients.

Last month, the Iraqi army - backed by USA -led coalition airstrikes and local allies on the ground - launched a wide-ranging offensive to retake Mosul, which was overrun by the terrorist group in mid-2014.

A spokeswoman for the United Nations high commissioner for human rights, Ravina Shamdasani, said reports continued to arrive of serious breaches of worldwide human rights and humanitarian law in and around Mosul.

"[IS] has been installing rocket launchers and placing snipers on the rooftops of civilian houses", she said.

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An Iraqi injured boy, background, who was wounded in Mosul during the fighting between the Iraqi forces and the Islamic State militants, receives medical treatment inside an emergency room at Rojava hospital, in Irbil, north Iraq, Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016. Most of the people executed previously in Mosul were former police and army officers, suspected of disloyalty or plotting rebellions against the militants' harsh rule.

To the west of Mosul, Hashed al-Shaabi (Popular Mobilisation) paramilitary forces made a push to cut the road between two towns on the route heading to Syria, security officials said.

But the troops now face jihadist snipers, suicide bombers and vehicle bombs when moving from district-to-district in a bid to rid the city of the extremist group for good.

More than a million people are still believed to live in parts of Mosul under the control of the fighters, who seized the largest city in northern Iraq as part of a lightning advance across a third of the country in 2014.

A senior commander in the eastern sector of Mosul, Brig. He said ISIS floods the streets with civilians when his forces enter, stopping the deployment of heavy munitions.

"Basic services such as water, electricity, health, food are non-existent", he said, standing in an eastern suburb while mortars were fired inside the city. He would not say how many casualties there were among government special forces.