At least 13 civilians killed in United States led-airstrike in western Mosul

Reuters

REUTERS/Zohra BensemraSmoke is seen rising after a rocket landed in the middle of the Iraqi rapid response forces' position during a battle against Islamic State militants in the south of Mosul, Iraq, Feb. 19, 2017. They have really two choices: "they can surrender to the Iraqi security forces, or they're going to be killed".

Civilian houses occasionally come under attacks by coalition warplanes taking part in an Iraqi offensive aimed to recapture Mosul from Daesh terrorist group, which overran the city in 2014.

That is when the task will begin of uncovering the mass graves where Islamic State threw its opponents after executing them.

One worker at the morgue knows the scale of Islamic State's two and half year killing spree better than most.

The fact that the Iraqi government is making gains against IS militants illustrates how its intelligence apparatus has improved against IS, says Hisham al-Hashimi, a security analyst in Baghdad who advises the government on Sunni militant groups.

Thursday battles are part of slow push toward the western edge of Mosul's densely populated old city center, where roughly 400,000 residents are believed to still be trapped under IS rule.

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Using satellite imagery and local researches, the most recent evaluation confirms that western Mosul has undergone extensive destruction, "far greater than in the east", according to a senior United Nations aid official in the country.

Numerous civilians killed in Mosul were buried in gardens by relatives who were unable to reach a graveyard during the fighting, and now want to give them a proper burial.

The Iraqi government has issued instructions to civilians on how to stay safe as forces continue their assault on the IS-held western side of the city.

Since the effort to take Mosul back from ISIS began Feb.19, Iraqi forces supported by coalition airstrikes have cleared almost 200 square miles of territory, Dorrian reported.

But unless the authorities keep watch, people could take advantage of the chaos to fake deaths - whether to escape justice, or simply start a new life.

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