Iraqi troops launch battle for last IS stronghold in Mosul

BAGHDAD (AP) — U.S.-backed Iraqi troops pushed into the last Islamic State stronghold in Mosul on Sunday, launching a major battle for the Old City where some 150,000 civilians are believed to be trapped and risk being used as human shields by the extremists.

The push for the Old City is the final major fight of an eight-month campaign to drive the militants from Iraq’s second largest city. The extremists are expected to make their last stand in the densely populated quarter with narrow, winding alleys.

Iraqi special forces, the regular army and Federal Police are taking part in the operation to retake the Old City, said Lt. Gen. Abdul-Amir Rasheed Yar Allah, who commands army operations in Ninevah province.

Iraq state TV aired live footage showing thick black smoke rising from the Old City, with the sound of gunfire rattling inside. It said leaflets were distributed urging civilians…

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