Fierce fighting from remaining IS militants in Mosul and Raqqa

Iraqi forces advance towards Mosul’s Old City on Sunday, an offensive to retake the last district in the city still held by the Islamic State. Military commanders say the assault began at dawn after overnight airstrikes by the U.S.-led coalition.

Western-backed forces edged into the final redoubts of the two capitals of Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate in Iraq and Syria on Tuesday, hampered by fierce resistance from the militants and the presence of human shields, Reuters reported.

Iraqi commanders have predicted final victory in Mosul this week after a grinding eight-month assault on the once two-million-strong city pushed Islamic State into a rectangle no more than 300 by 500 meters beside the Tigris river, Reuters added.

In Raqqa, Islamic State’s headquarters in northern Syria from where it plotted attacks around the world, U.S.-backed militia were fighting inside the historic Old City after coalition air strikes breached its walls in two places, according to Reuters.

Victory over the hardline militants in both cities would mark the effective end of the three-year-old caliphate, although a few towns and large rural areas of Iraq and Syria remain under their control, Reuters added.

But their centers are a maze of narrow alleyways packed with civilians and planted with multiple explosive devices by the militants, who are also using drones and suicide bombings, explained Reuters.

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