Fighting rages on in western Mosul

Fighting is continuing between Iraqi forces and ISIL militants in western Mosul.

Civilians are leaving the area amid gunfire and explosions.

Lieutenant General Abdulwahab al-Saadi says the far west of Mosul could soon be back under government control.

The districts closer to the centre are controlled by police and interior ministry forces.

Hundreds of thousands trapped

An estimated 400,000 people are thought to be trapped in western Mosul. UN camps are filling up with people fleeing the violence.

Daily suicide attacks and roadside bombs, along with snipers and mortars, have been the most lethal ISIL tactics in resisting the 100,000-strong Iraqi force.

The US military says a US-led coalition strike has hit an ISIL-held area where residents and officials say as many as 200 civilians may have been killed.

The brutal fight for Iraq’s western Mosul is taking a heavy toll on civilians:— CBS News (@CBSNews) 11 avril 2017

Hassan, 4 year old from Western #Mosul, gets sharp haircut at unhcr's Chamakor displacement camp, housing nearly 12k people – carogluck— The Baghdad Post (@TheBaghdadPostE) 2 avril 2017

Eastern Mosul

The lack of basic supplies like electricity and water is still making life difficult in eastern Mosul, three months after it was retaken from ISIL.

“It is a disaster. If you go to any neighbourhood you will see piles of rubbish that have accumulated. My house is in the Al Sadir area and, just a week ago, we loaded eight big trucks with rubbish from one single site, there is smell and the risk of diseases that it could spread,” said one man.

Residents are worried about the spread of disease due to the lack of sanitation.

Children jump over open sewage flows on their way to school, where the teachers – like other public employees – have not received their salaries for the last two years.

“Progress, air support and ammunition” – what a US general says

“Iraqi security forces continue to progress as they liberate the western side of Mosul,” said US Army Major General Joseph Martin.

He is head of ground forces for the US-led coalition fighting ISIL.

He declined to say whether the militants would be defeated within weeks rather than months, adding: “It’s hard to tell because the terrain changes literally every day.”

Martin said Iraqi forces had surrounded ISIL positions but it was not always possible to move vehicles into all parts of the Old City with its narrow streets.

“Some days, like yesterday, (there was) significant amount of progress, other days there is not much progress but progress, nevertheless,” Martin continued.

“It is very complicated. The terrain literally changes from neighbourhood to neighbourhood..the nature of the enemy, how the population reacts.”

He also said coalition forces continued to provide air support for Iraqi forces despite an explosion that followed an air strike that was believed to have killed scores of civilians on March 17.

“Nothing has changed in terms of air support. It has been consistent.”

He declined to discuss any involvement of the coalition in the explosion, but described ISIL as “very creative in exploiting the human element” by using hospitals, schools, churches, homes and mosques as hideouts or weapons caches.

“It is clear that (ISIL’s) competence, their cohesion and their effectiveness continues to wane over time.”

However, he said the militants would fight to the end and there are no signs they would run out of ammunition soon.

“Don’t underestimate the ammunition,” Martin said. “But the outcome is very, very clear. They are going to lose and the Iraqis will win.”

The context

Government forces have retaken much of Iraq’s second-largest city since January. They have been trying since then to dislodge the Sunni Muslim militants from the densely-populated Old City in western Mosul, their last Iraqi stronghold.

Iraqi officers have said snipers have slowed them down in western Mosul in the biggest ground operation in Iraq since the 2003 US-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.