Iraqi special forces take cover on a roof overlooking Islamic State group positions, in the Mamun neighborhood of western Mosul, Iraq, Thursday, March 2, 2017. Iraqi forces have retaken a handful of neighborhoods on Mosul's southwestern edge since launching the operation to retake the city's western half last month, but IS fighters continued to launch fierce counterattacks on Iraqi positions inside Mosul. The United Nations says over 28,000 people have fled the city since the operation to retake its remaining militant-held western districts was launched last month.
As Iraqi forces struggle to solidify gains in neighborhoods in eastern Mosul, more and more civilians are fleeing the city. At a checkpoint on the edge of Gogjali, Mosul's easternmost neighborhood, civilians fleeing Mosul were screened to catch any IS fighters who may be hiding among them. Since Iraqi forces first pushed into the eastern edge of the city last Tuesday, dozens of people have been arrested.
Late Wednesday, a spokesman for one of the larger state-sanctioned Shiite militias fighting on the ground near Mosul said the militiamen have seized a road to the northwest of Mosul linking the city to Raqqa, the de facto capital of the IS group's self-styled caliphate in neighboring Syria. The militias have been converging on Tal Afar, an IS-held town west of Mosul that had a Shiite majority before falling to the extremists in 2014.
MOSUL, IRAQ – Small stalls and carts have sprung up outside the bombed-out buildings in eastern Mosul, selling meat and vegetables, cigarettes and cellphones to the thousands of civilians still living in neighborhoods where the Iraqi military has driven out the Islamic State group. As the grinding military operation enters its fourth month, about a third of the northern city is under government control. While more than 100,000 people have fled the fighting, many have remained despite no electricity or running water. Zaid Khaled sells frozen chicken from a stall in the main traffic circle in the Zahour neighborhood. Every morning, he takes a bus to the easternmost edge of Mosul to buy the poultry in a market.