The end is near: ISIS and Al-Qaeda, to join forces

ISIS is talking to al-Qaeda about a possible alliance as Iraqi troops close in on ISIS fighters in Mosul, Iraqi vice president Ayad Allawi said in an interview on Monday.

The intelligence agencies are not yet sure how the two organizations might begin the collaboration, especially since ISIS conquered numerous territories in the northern region of Iraq, where Baghdadi declared established his khalifate.

In February, Iraqi ground forces - backed by a US -led air coalition - began fresh operations aimed at ousting ISIL from western Mosul, the terrorist group's last stronghold in northern Iraq.

Islamic State group fighters are losing large numbers of men along with their grip on Mosul, the Iraqi city they once completely controlled.

The Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19.

The allied Iraqi forces are battling ISIS and local officials say more than half of western Mosul has been retaken from the extremists.

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Iraqi government forces have taken back most of it in a USA -backed offensive launched in October, including the half that lies east of the Tigris river.

Aid shipments also resumed to the Hammam al-Alil camp, southwest of Mosul, the main arrival point for people fleeing the fighting. Nearly 330,000 people have fled Mosul since Iraq started an operation to expel Islamic State in October. What little food remains is too expensive for most residents to afford, or kept for Islamic State members and their supporters.Government forces are trying to capture the Grand al-Nuri Mosque in the Old City, from where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a "caliphate" spanning parts of Iraq and Syria almost three years ago.

This mosque is a prime target for the government forces for its symbolic value as it is the site where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed the caliphate on June 29, 2014.

IS had become an offshoot of al Qaeda in Iraq by 2004, but IS later broke off from the group and became its rival.

It is unclear how the two groups would work together, Allawi said.

  • Sonia Alvarado