Iraqi Forces Begin Assault on Mosul’s Old City

The area of the old city sits on the west bank of the Tigris River and is home to the Great Mosque of al-Nuri, whose distinctive leaning minaret dominates western Mosul’s skyline and where the Islamic State leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, in 2014 spoke from the pulpit and declared his caliphate.

The battle for Mosul — the largest city that the Islamic State has controlled in a vast territory straddling the border between Iraq and Syria — is already in its ninth month. It has proved to be longer and tougher than anyone anticipated, with hundreds of casualties among Iraqi security forces and civilians, many caused by United States-led airstrikes in the densely populated city.

Already on Sunday morning there were reports, which could not be immediately confirmed, that more than a dozen civilians had been killed in airstrikes on the old city.

As the battle has unfolded, the two sides of the city, east and west, have faced different fates. The eastern side was an easier task….

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