Rain and fog forced Iraqi government troops to halt their push against Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) in Mosul's Old City on Thursday but the militants holed up in its houses and narrow alleyways took advantage of the lull to hit back.
The army and security forces have made significant gains in recent days in the battle that started in October, seizing a main bridge over the Tigris river and advancing towards the mosque in the Old City from where Daesh's leader declared a caliphate in 2014
Mosul has been the hardline militants’ main urban stronghold in Iraq but they have steadily lost ground since the offensive began and Iraqi leaders say the battle is reaching its final stages.
Earlier on Thursday, government forces were attempting to encircle the Old City to bottle up Daesh fighters. Several more areas of western Mosul had been recaptured, including the hospital, over Wednesday and Thursday morning but officers said progress was slowed by car bombs and booby-traps in houses and alleyways. Then the advance was put on hold.
"Operations in the Mosul west Old City have been halted on Thursday due to bad, rainy weather. We can’t advance without airstrikes cover due to the fog," a Rapid Response unit spokesman said.