House-to-house fighting in battle for west Mosul

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The US-led coalition is attempting to recapture the Old City from the extremists but the ancient quarters are densely populated and there have been concerns over civilian casualties.

The jihadists have been sheltering behind families, mounting attacks from their homes while terrorising them into remaining in a bid to stave off attacks.

Sky News has seen bulldozers which have been adapted to be used as 'killing machines' in Mosul.

Video:Sky News has seen bulldozers which have been adapted to be used as ‘killing machines’ in Mosul.

One tactic has been to take up positions inside civilian homes from where they shoot at the Iraqi forces but then escape through holes they’ve punched in the exterior walls.

The IS attacks then invite retaliatory firing causing civilian casualties.

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Video:Sky’s John Sparks with refugees fleeing from Mosul

General Abdul Wahab al Saadi of the counterterrorism service told Sky News his men did their utmost to avoid civilian deaths or injuries.

He said: “The civilians are really a big problem and their presence there is causing us a big delay because we don’t fire mortars or airstrikes because we are very, very careful about civilian lives.”


Video:The US-led coalition fighting Islamic State has said it was involved in an airstrike in west Mosul last week which is claimed to have caused hundreds of civilian casualties.

We spoke to fleeing civilians who told us repeatedly of IS using them as human shields.

:: Coalition: We are witnessing defeat of Islamic State in Mosul

“They really treated us very badly,” one elderly woman told me. “Very early in the morning they told us we had to be ready to go with them and go forward.”

She added: “We got ready and then by the grace of God, we saw the federal police come forward and we ran to them.”

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Video:Brigadier General Matthew Isler tells Sky News that every day in the battle for Mosul is tough and violent for the Iraqi soldiers

Hundreds of thousands of civilians are believed to be still in the Old City, terrified but unable to leave and caught in the middle of this intensifying war.

Reporters from a Kurdish news agency claim airstrikes killed more than 130 men, women and children as they cowered in their homes in the western district of Mosul al Jadida.

The battle against IS continues in Mosul

Video:IS is being repelled in Northern Iraq and the city of Mosul is the central arena for the conflict which rages around ordinary lives.

When the Sky News team was in the area, we witnessed several rockets and machine gunfire by attack helicopters into the heavily-populated area of the Old City.

It was impossible to say where the rockets landed but the US-led coalition insists they only target IS fighters and their equipment.

Mosul's al Jadida area
Image Caption:More than 130 civilians were killed in airstrikes in Mosul al Jadida, reports say

The Iraqi forces face a resilient and determined enemy whose brutality against the population in Mosul has been repeatedly emphasised by survivors.

:: Watch a special programme, The Battle For Mosul, at 12pm and 7pm on Monday on Sky News.

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