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U.S.-Backed Iraqi Special Forces Encircling Mosul Old City

Iraqi government troops are moving closer to surrounding Mosul's Old City, as the U.S.-backed forces battle to liberate the city from Islamic State (IS) extremists, military officials say.

The advance on May 11 is part of a two-pronged drive launched last week from the north of Iraq's second-largest city, the last major IS stronghold in the country.

As the bulk of the force moves in from the north, special forces are moving toward the Old City through west Mosul's industrial districts, Iraqi Lieutenant General Sami al-Arathi said.

"The multi-axis advance ... has presented the enemy with more dilemmas than they can react to," John Dorrian, a spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition, told reporters.

He said Iraqi forces have retaken more than 30 square kilometers of territory from the extremists over the past week.

Iraqi forces backed by U.S. and coalition air support began the battle to liberate Mosul in October.

The eastern half of the city was retaken earlier this year, and troops are facing fierce IS resistance in the more heavily populated west Mosul.

IS fighters captured Mosul in 2014 as they gained wide swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria in battles against government troops.

However, U.S.-led coalition forces have made major gains against the group, both in Mosul and in the Syrian city of Raqqa, the last major IS stronghold in that country.

Based on reporting by AP and AFP.


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