Just 300 Isil militants left fighting in back alleys of Mosul's Old City
Isil fighters defended their remaining stronghold in the Old City of Mosul yesterday, moving stealthily along narrow back alleys as US-backed Iraqi forces slowly advanced.
The Iraqi army estimated the number of Isil fighters at no more than 300, down from nearly 6,000 in the city when the battle of Mosul started in October.
The intensity of fighting yesterday was lower than on Sunday, when Iraqi forces announced the start of the assault on the Old City.
The historic district, and a tiny area to its north, are the only parts of the city still under the militants' control.
The Red Cross expressed alarm yesterday at the situation of the civilians in the Old City, estimated at more than 100,000 by the United Nations.
"We're seeing dozens of new patients a day, including children and the elderly," said Julia Schuerch, a Red Cross emergency specialist in Mosul.
"For a heart-breakingly high number, it was simply too late; they died soon after reaching us," she said.
The militants are moving house to house through holes knocked in inner walls to avoid air surveillance, said Major-General Sami al-Arithi of the Counter Terrorism Service.