ISIS controlled 40 percent of Iraqi territory in 2014 but that figure is now down to 6.8 percent as of March 31, after extensive military operations, Brig.
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Seven alleys in the neighborhood were recaptured, al-Alusi said, adding that his forces killed 15 armed militants and arrested another three; they also destroyed a booby-trapped vehicle through which a suicide bomber tried to target Iraqi troops. ISIS is using vehicle-borne bombs, direct and indirect fire, and human shields to slow that advance, he added.
According to him, since the effort to take Mosul back from ISIS began on Feb.19, Iraqi forces supported by coalition airstrikes had cleared almost 200 square miles of territory. "The enemy has intensified their exploitation of civilians by moving them in large numbers into harm's way", he said.
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The troops are trying to advance through the narrow streets in the old neighborhoods around the historical al-Nuri Mosque in the middle of Mosul's old city center, the source said. "This is something that is a despicable and cowardly tactic", he said. "Their ability and capability became stronger and more developed" since the jihadists shocked Iraqi security and intelligence forces with their lightning offensive in June 2104, says Mr. Hashimi. "And a lot of the reason for that is the coalition airstrikes that have supported our partners as they've taken that territory back".
"This enemy in Mosul is not going anywhere; they're not going to be able to leave to the west; they are cut off".
Colonel Dorrian said the fight in Western Mosul had been tough but said IS fighters had no escape. "We've said for many months that as we got into the old part of the city, the dense urban terrain there, that it would be extraordinarily hard", Dorrian continued. One of the reasons for that is because we want to do it in a manner that protects civilian life.
"It's very complicated", Martin said.