Islamic State under pressure in Iraqi and Syrian strongholds

Islamic State under pressure in Iraqi and Syrian strongholdsBy Stephen Kalin and Goran Tomasevic MOSUL, Iraq/RAQQA, Syria (Reuters) – U.S.-backed Iraqi forces pressed Islamic State fighters holding out in Mosul’s Old City on Friday, while in Syria the militant group launched a counter-attack against an alliance of militias trying to oust it from its de facto capital of Raqqa. In Iraq, dozens of civilians poured out of Mosul, long held by IS, and fled in the direction of the Iraqi forces, many of them women and children, thirsty, tired and some wounded. Iraqi authorities say they are only days away from a victory over militants in their remaining redoubt in Mosul, though commanders of counter-terrorism units fighting their way through the narrow streets of the Old City say die-hard IS fighters are dug in among civilians and the battle ahead remains challenging.

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