It was reported that on the same day that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared his caliphate from Mosul's Grand Mosque of Nuri in early 2014, smartphones and internet-connected devices in the area had their signals jammed and the Grand Mosque's cleric was killed by ISIS militants, for refusing to give up the mosque for al-Baghdadi's declaration. This would be the beginning of a city under an oppressive and violent terrorist group, who were about to try their hand at running their first Islamic State in Iraq, despite all possible odds against them. Since then, Iraqis and Syrians have been at the mercy of these terrorist group.

Recent reports from Mosul are that Iraqi forces have blocked off the main road into the Mosul Old City and are fighting ISIS militants around the same Grand Mosque where al-Baghdadi declared his caliphate. Some reports say that on Friday, the Islamic State used a bulldozer packed with explosives to plow through vehicles which they detonated around a convoy that as of this writing, killed four Iraqi soldiers.

Human shields, the last stand

As Iraqi forces prepared to force the Islamic State group out of Mosul in October, the view was that the battle would be long and arduous due to not only how large the city was but because of how densely populated it was as well. Now, nearly six months later, after the militants had been driven out of Eastern Mosul, Iraqi forces reportedly have the militants holding out in the last stand in the Western and more densely populated part of the city.

Various reports state that the fighters are using "hundreds of thousands" of civilians as human shields while they try to bleed Iraqi troops. The coalition estimates that there are 2,000 militants with 700,000 civilians.

Much like previous battles in Iraq where they've used human shields; they're using the same tactic to escape the area which the Pentagon and Iraqi leadership say is exactly what ISIS leaders have done.

In this case, they have escaped into Syria where other coalition forces wait to take the last two strongholds by the militant group in Raqqa and in the region of Deir el-Zour. Reports also state that 50,000 civilians had already fled Mosul over the last month but that those who are left, are told by ISIS militants that they would be killed if they tried to leave.

And still, at times, the militants had released some civilians in order for them to reorganize themselves. In one case when this happened, as 5,000 Iraqi civilians were released; Iraqi troops were attacked from behind.

Coalition power

Military leaders say that it's only a matter of time before they crush the ISIS group, who are surprisingly still well-armed for the hold-out. In fact, it's said that Mosul will be their final stronghold in Iraq before Syria, as they continue to get pushed out by coalitions forces.

The special presidential envoy for the U.S.-led coalition Brett McGurk said on Sunday that ISIS militants will die in Mosul because they're essentially trapped. Air support has conducted airstrikes as Special Forces and federal police advance along the Tigris river which divides the city. Much of the air strikes are reportedly coming from the Iraqi air force which they have stepped up. But care has to be taken with airstrikes in order to prevent unnecessary civilian casualties. To a certain extent, this has frustrated some officers.

Protecting Iraqi civilians

Only from a collection of reports can one determine the extent allied forces will go to protect civilian lives.

Captain Lucas Gebhart who is commanding a troop of Apache helicopters, has reportedly been in the fight since December. He said that they're aways firing missiles and take care to not hit civilians. He says the reason is because those who fly in the copters are husbands and fathers too. He said that at one time, an ISIS militant pulled a family out while a missile was in the air but that he was able to move the missile at the last minute. He also said that he doesn't lose sleep over what he does.

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