The fall of Mosul would, in effect, mark the end of the Iraqi half of the “caliphate” Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared three years ago. AFP / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE
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Iraqi forces began storming the Daesh (ISIS)-held Old City of Mosul Sunday, an assault they hope will be the last in the eight-month campaign to seize the militants' stronghold.A high-ranking Daesh figure in charge of intelligence in Mosul, Shakir Mahmoud Hamad, was captured by the advancing troops in the Old City, Hashimi told Reuters. The Iraqi government initially hoped to take Mosul by the end of 2016, but the campaign took longer as militants reinforced positions in the middle of civilians to fight back. Gen. Maan Saadi told Iraqi state TV.Hundreds of civilians were killed near the front lines in the past three weeks while fleeing the Old City, as Iraqi forces could not fully secure exit corridors.The Iraqi army estimates that the number of Daesh fighters in the Old City does not exceed 300, down from nearly 6,000 when the battle of Mosul started on Oct. 17 .Iraqi government forces regained eastern Mosul in January, then a month later began the offensive on the side located west of the Tigris, which includes the Old City.
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