IS ouster clears way for football comeback in Iraq's Mosul

Clinic outside Mosul treats those with gravest injuries

"The Iraqi security forces retain control of both main routes west from Mosul, eliminating enemy freedom of movement", he added.

The combination of "explosives, booby traps, snipers, the use of civilian shields", he emphasized, "just makes it very slow and hard going".

More than 300 square miles have been cleared since west Mosul operations began mid-February, he said.

"The strike also left 17 people injured, mostly seriously", the news agency quoted Yazan al-Duberdani, the Iraqi pilot, as saying.

An estimated 400,000 people are thought to be trapped in western Mosul.

The U.S. military has said a U.S. -led coalition strike had hit an Islamic State-held area where residents and officials say as many as 200 civilians may have been killed. The United States and other Western countries have assisted with air support, intelligence and equipment, General Rasool said.

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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.

Dorrian said USA, coalition and partner forces were edging towards victory in the campaign to defeat ISIS. "It has been consistent".

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.

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.

"Don't underestimate the ammunition", he said.

The federal police said in a statement on Tuesday they have been reinforcing their positions in Western Mosul in preparation for a push on the al-Nuri Mosque where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate in 2014. "With each passing day the number of ISIS fighters in Mosul goes down, the amount of resources they have available to continue their mayhem goes down and, ultimately, they are not going anywhere and they are going to be defeated". "Prime Minister [Haider] Abadi's been very clear on that, and it's been an enduring principle of the campaign throughout".

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