Iraqi troops tighten their grip around ISIS in Mosul

Iraqi troops tighten their grip around ISIS in Mosul

Inside the city, CTS are fighting alongside the federal police and the elite interior ministry Rapid Response force, which earlier this week recaptured the provincial government headquarters and the Mosul museum.

Mosul- Iraqi forces entered on Sunday the heart of Mosul and tightened the noose on ISIS militants after cutting off the group's last link to the western part of the city. The commandos of the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) continued their advance inside the neighbourhoods of Aghawat and Risala in the west of the old city centre.

Inside the city troops battled the ultra-hardline Sunni Muslim terrorists, who hid among the remaining civilian population and deployed snipers and suicide vehicle bombs to defend their last major Iraq stronghold.

Terrorists used auto bombs in their nighttime counter-attack around the governorate building, Major General Ali Kadhem al-Lami of the Federal Police's Fifth Division told a Reuters correspondent near the site.

On Saturday, Iraqi forces said that a "large mass grave" had been found that contained the remains of hundreds of "civilian prisoners who were executed by (IS) gangs after they controlled the prison during their occupation of Mosul". The offensive to recapture west Mosul got underway less than three weeks ago.

IS is alleged to have killed up to 600 inmates, majority Shia Muslims, when it seized Mosul in 2014.

"ISIS is trapped", Brett McGurk, the special presidential envoy for the global coalition against IS, told reporters in Baghdad Sunday, using an alternative acronym for the Islamic State group.

In addition to carrying out strikes targeting ISIS, the US-led coalition has trained almost 90,000 members of the Iraqi security forces, the U.S. envoy said.

The offensive to retake Mosul began October 17, led by Iraqi security forces and aided by the Kurdish Peshmerga, a Shiite-led militia, and the US -led worldwide coalition.

One of the Shia jihadist groups - the Abbas Division - is fighting alongside the regular Iraqi army, which in recent days jointly completed the encirclement of Mosul, about 10 kilometres (6 miles) southeast of Badush.

Refugees flee from western Mosul as troops work to liberate the city A refugee girl looks into the camera.

More than 215,000 persons are now internally displaced from Mosul and surrounding areas following the military operations which began in October 2016, according to the United Nations refugee agency, UNHCR.

While losing control of Mosul will be a decisive blow to Isis, the jihadi organisation is expected to pose a renewed threat in the form of an insurgency war against Iraqi forces.