Iraqi forces shelled Daesh positions in Mosul’s Old City on Monday in preparation for a ground operation aimed at decisively ousting the terrorist group from the area, according to an Iraqi army officer.
“Federal police forces are pounding Daesh positions with missiles and artillery fire,” Army Captain Jabbar Hussein told Anadolu Agency.
He said the shelling comes in advance of a “planned ground offensive” aimed at dislodging Daesh militants from western Mosul.
Analysts believe the fall of the Old City -- considered the heart of Mosul -- would deal a death blow to Daesh in northern Iraq.
In February, Iraqi forces, with air cover provided by a U.S.-led coalition, began fresh operations aimed at purging Daesh from western Mosul, the terrorist group’s last stronghold in the region.
The offensive came as part of a wider campaign launched last October to retake the entire city, which Daesh overran -- along with other parts of the country -- in mid-2014.
*Reporting by Ali Jawad and Serhad Shaker; Writing by Mohamed Sabry Emam Muhammed