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Iraq forces open exit routes for civilians to flee Mosul

Some of the suicides bombers blew themselves up in two houses and the rest were killed by Iraqi security forces, a police official said.US -supported Iraqi government offensives have wrested back several important urban centers in the country’s west and north from Islamic State over the past 18 months.Residents in areas retaken from the jihadists have warned that sleeper cells remain a threat and that cursory screening has allowed many IS supporters to return to civilian life without facing justice.There had been growing calls in east Mosul before Friday night’s attack for the families of ISIL members to be, among other measures, banished for 10 years.The week-old battle in the Old City is turning into the deadliest of the eight-month US -backed campaign to take back the northern city, which fell to the militants in June 2014.Iraqi Federal Police on Friday rescued more than 200 civilian residents who had been trapped inside Islamic State-held western Mosul, according to a local military source.With their control of Mosul slipping away, Islamic State militants made a decision to send a message of defiance: They blew up the 12th century al-Nuri Mosque, along with its famous leaning minaret.”The fourth managed to hide and later blow himself up in the midst of a group of civilians and soldiers”, the officer said.The fight for Mosul has now lasted for more than eight months.The attack was carried out by three people who detonated explosive belts, killing and wounding an unspecified number of people, according to a military statement.Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the militants’ decision to blow it up was an admission of defeat.Displaced civilians rescued by Iraqi security forces from battle at Old City are pictured as they are transported from an armoured vehicle to an emergency clinic in western Mosul, Iraq June 23, 2017.Some 7,000 civilians were brought out of the Old City this week, the Iraqi state news website said.”I can not give you an exact estimate. but it will take weeks”, he said. Hundreds of civilians fleeing the Old City have been killed in the past three weeks.The Islamist extremists seized the northern Iraqi city, the country’s second largest, in 2014.Those who choose to stay or have no choice have been essentially besieged for months with scant drinking water and food in areas that are being hit by air strikes and artillery on a daily basis.