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IS Snipers Slow Advance in Mosul       05/28 10:52

   BAGHDAD (AP) -- The advance of government troops slowed on Sunday in the 
last push to drive Islamic State group militants from remaining pockets of 
Mosul, two Iraqi military officers said.

   On Saturday, U.S.-backed Iraqi forces began a new offensive to recapture the 
Old City from three directions. Hours after announcing the push, the government 
said two military officers were killed in clashes in the Shafaa neighborhood on 
the Tigris River.

   IS militants have deployed snipers, suicide car bombers and suicide 
attackers on foot, the officers said. They described the advance on Mosul's Old 
City as "cautious" and the clashes on Sunday as "sporadic" without giving 
details on casualty figures from either side.

   The troops captured Ibn Sina hospital, part of the sprawling medical complex 
in the Shafaa neighborhood, the officers added. They spoke on condition of 
anonymity in line with regulations.

   Mosul's wide-scale military operation was launched in October and its 
eastern half was declared liberated in January. The push for the city's west 
began the following month.

   The IS hold on Mosul has shrunk to just a handful of neighborhoods in and 
around the Old City district where narrow streets and a dense civilian 
population are expected to complicate the fight there.

   On Friday, Iraqi planes dropped leaflets over the area, encouraging the 
civilians to flee "immediately" to "safe passages" where they will be greeted 
by "guides, protectors and (transportation) to reach safe places," according to 
a government statement.

   The U.N. estimated that as many as 200,000 people may try to leave in the 
coming days, while Save the Children warned that fleeing civilians could be 
caught in the crossfire, leading to "deadly chaos." 


(KA)

 
 
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