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Iraqi forces press gains against IS in eastern Mosul

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A member of Iraqi security forces inspects a house in the Intisar district of eastern Mosul.

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05th-Jan-2017       
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Reuters, Erbil :
 Iraqi forces pressed gains against Islamic State militants in eastern Mosul on Wednesday and have retaken two more districts, security sources said, with thousands more civilians fleeing the fighting.
An elite interior ministry unit had entered the Mithaq district and were clearing it on Wednesday, the sources said, while counterterrorism forces retook an industrial zone on Tuesday.
The militants are using the city terrain to their advantage, concealing car bombs in narrow alleys, posting snipers on tall buildings with civilians on lower floors, and making underground tunnels and surface-level passageways between buildings.
"We were very afraid," said one Mithaq resident.
"A Daesh (Islamic State) anti-aircraft weapon was positioned close to our house and was opening fire on helicopters. We could see a small number of Daesh fighters in the street carrying light and medium weapons. They were hit by planes."
Most of those fleeing are from the eastern districts but residents of the besieged west, still fully under the militants' control, are increasingly attempting to escape, scaling bridges bombed by the coalition and crossing the Tigris by boat.
Despite shortages of food and water, most Mosul residents had stayed in their homes rather than fleeing as many had expected before the offensive began in October.
The U.N. refugee agency has said 125,568 people have been displaced from Mosul, a city of about 1.5 million, and more than 13,000 of those have fled in the five days since the U.S.-led coalition renewed an offensive that had stalled for weeks.
That represents an increase of nearly 50 percent in the number of people who fled every day from Mosul over the several weeks of relative calm that ended last weekend.
Twelve weeks into Iraq's largest military campaign since the U.S.-led invasion of 2003, security forces have retaken about a quarter of Mosul.

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