'IS' In Talks With Al Qaeda On 'Possible Alliance'

Two Iraqi soldiers were killed in clashes with ISIL militants in western Mosul, an Iraqi officer said Monday. The militants were driven from the eastern section of the city earlier this year and are losing ground to Iraqi forces as the weeks pass.

Flooding has made all bridges across the Tigris in and out of western Mosul impassable, cutting off aid supplies and escape routes for people fleeing the Islamic State-held part of the Iraqi city.

Iraqi government forces, backed by USA advisers, artillery and air support, have cleared the east of Mosul and half of the west and are now focused on the Old City.

Analysts believe that many senior members of the Islamic State fled in the days and weeks before Iraqi forces, backed by Kurdish and Shi'ite militias, began the major operation to retake the city in October.

"ISIS suicide motorcycles now are their favorite weapon inside the Old City", he said.

Iraqi forces have been making significant gains in west Mosul over the past two months but the toughest battles could yet lie ahead, with die-hard jihadists hunkering down in the treacherous streets of the Old City.

The end is near: ISIS and Al-Qaeda, to join forces
IS had become an offshoot of al Qaeda in Iraq by 2004, but IS later broke off from the group and became its rival. Nearly 330,000 people have fled Mosul since Iraq started an operation to expel Islamic State in October.

Government forces, including army, police and elite counter terrorism units have taken back most of it, including the half that lies east of the Tigris river.

Meanwhile, the federal police and interior ministry special forces, known as Rapid Response, continued their battles on the southern and western front lines at the edge of the old city center, the source said.

"Our worst case scenario when the fighting started was that up to one million civilians may flee Mosul", Grande said.

Brig Gen Yahya Rasool, a military spokesman, told the news agency AP that the group controls less than 30,000 square kilometres in Iraq, or 6.8 percent of the country's territory, down from more than 40 percent at its height.

He said that around 30 people had been killed in the attack.

  • Sonia Alvarado