Destruction in fight to take west Mosul worse than east

"Every strike that we conduct is coordinated directly with the Iraqi security forces", he said.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is also the commander-in-chief of the armed forces, announced the start of an offensive on February 19 to drive extremist militants out of the western side of Mosul, locally known as the right bank of Tigris River which bisects the city.

The UN expects many more to flee, Grande said.

"This enemy in Mosul is not going anywhere", he said, later adding, "They're not going to be able to leave to the west; they are cut off. ..."

"The Iraqi Security Forces continue their advance but it's very, very hard and it's just going to remain so for awhile", Dorrian added. "This is something that is a despicable and cowardly tactic", he said.

Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the commander of United States forces in Iraq and Syria, confirmed in an interview today that he still wants more ground troops in Syria, saying the troops would be needed to "fight ISIS," and adding that he hoped the invasion of Raqqa would be "underway by this summer".

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The US-backed Iraqi forces are now battling IS militants in the more densely-populated western half of Mosul.

Senior mufti Abdullah al-Badrani, also known as Abu Ayub al-Atar, reportedly died after his location was bombed by the US-led coalition, which was backing government forces, on Thursday (13 April).

But their progress has been slowed by improvised explosive devices and snipers as the troops engage in house-to-house fighting.

The US announced the invasion of Raqqa late a year ago, starting an effort to surround the city which is still going at a slow rate.

"The Iraqi security forces do continue to advance". We are very careful.

There is only a "shrinking cordon" in Mosul where ISIS can operate, Dorrian said.