Iraqi forces surround Al-Hadba Minaret
Rudaw reporter Sidad Lashkiri embedded with Iraqi forces said government forces have ISIS militants completely surrounded near Al-Hadba Minaret. He added army commanders have mentioned they are just 50 meters away from the minaret, but ISIS militants resist, taking advantage of today's bad weather in the city.
Additionally, Lashkiri reported ISIS militants in the morning launched a counterattack on the Rapid Response Forces and Federal police, but the attack was defeated.
Iraqi fighter jets reportedly pounded Ashur Hotel, where ISIS snipers taking cover and halting the army's advances.
Iraqi federal police plan to surround the Old City
MOSUL, Iraq — Huge plooms of smoke were shown rising from near the Ashur Hotel in the Bab at Tawb neighborhood of western Mosul midday on Thursday by Rudaw cameras.
Iraqi forces on Monday also had been battling the militant group near Ashur Hotel in the center of Mosul, facing ISIS mortar and sniper fire.
Fierce fighting between Iraqi forces and ISIS militants has been on going throughout the week in Bab at Tawb.
"We have a plan to surround the Old City. Today we have advanced from the right and left sides and the only part left is right in the middle. God willing we will continue this plan today," Reuters reported Iraqi Federal Police Major General Haidar Dhirgham as saying on Thursday.
Dhirgham reportedly said suicide bombers were driving explosive-rigged cars at troops. There had been three such attacks on Thursday morning. Troops have also seized buildings in which suicide vehicles were being prepared.
The Iraqi forces aim to retake the famed Great Mosque of al-Nur where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared his so-called caliphate on June 29, 2014, naming himself the leader of the whole Islamic world, seeking to found a new Islamic regime.
The mosque is also the site of the al-Hadba minaret, nicknamed the hunchback by Iraqis because of its precarious tilt.
The 45 metre high minaret was completed in 1172. By the 14th century, when the traveler Ibn Battutah visited Mosul, the minaret was already leaning, according to the World Monument Fund.
Iraqi Federal Police announced Iraqi forces had retaken control of the Old Bridge (also called the Iron Bridge) on Wednesday, meaning government forces had retaken three of Mosul's five bridges on both sides of the Tigris river.
Iraqi officials have estimated around 600,000 civilians in western Mosul are caught between ISIS fighters and Iraqi and coalition forces who are liberating the war-torn right bank.