Iraq holding IS suspects in 'horrendous conditions' near Mosul

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In Iraq, government forces took control of a main iron bridge over the Tigris River, linking eastern Mosul with the militant-held Old City on Wednesday.

In mid-2014, when ISIS seized large swathes of Iraq and Syria, the jihadist group took Mosul, once considered the terrorist group's de facto capital in Iraq, much like what Raqqa is to the jihadist group in Syria.astern Mosul fell to the anti-ISIS U.S. -backed offensive of almost 100,000 Iraqi government troops, Kurdish Peshmerga forces, and Iran-backed Shiite militias, among other fighters.

A prominent Iraqi Sunni politician on Monday warned Washington the acceleration in a military campaign in western Mosul to drive out Islamic State jihadists was causing a sudden surge in civilian casualties that threatened to undermine the effort to crush the militants.

The southernmost two bridges have already been retaken by Iraqi forces.

At least four Iraqi soldiers and 16 Daesh terrorists were killed in Tuesday clashes near the Nineveh Train Station and the Baghdad Garage district in western Mosul, according to an Iraqi security source.

Taking Iron Bridge would effectively trap the remaining Daesh fighters inside the Old City.

Earlier, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi said in Baghdad the battle to drive Islamic State (IS) militants from their last urban stronghold is in final stage.

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Displaced Iraqis stand in front of a destroyed building to get into Hamam al-Alil camp on Tuesday.

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Displaced Iraqis flee their homes as Iraqi forces battle ISIS militants, in western Mosul, Iraq, March 6, 2017. Food and water had been scarce, they said - but they were pleased to have escaped ISIL's clutches, saying Daesh had wanted to move them to other areas. The Iraqi forces include army, special forces, Kurdish peshmerga and Shi'ite militias.

The intense combat, much of it street-by-street, marked a decisive stage in the battle for Mosul which started on October 17 previous year.

"Whenever we advance there are more people coming out", said one Iraqi officer directing refugee transport.

Until the latest phase of the battle to take western Mosul, the campaign had gone well with lower-than-expected civilian losses, Khanjar said crediting the professionalism of the USA trained elite forces. While the Islamic State is known to use men, women, and children as human shields in Mosul, the city's residents have also accused the coalition of indiscriminate bombing.

Losing the city would be a huge blow to Islamic State as it has served as the group's de facto capital since its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed himself head of a caliphate spanning Iraq and Syria from the Grand Mosque in the summer of 2014.

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