Iraqi Forces Target Isis-Held Mosque in Mosul

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Members of the Iraqi Federal Police stand guard during clashes with Islamic State fighters at a frontline in western Mosul, Iraq May 2, 2017. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui Danish Siddiqui/Reuters

Iraqi forces fighting as part of the U.S.-backed coalition have opened a second northern front in a bid to punch through into the city's besieged historic centre and retake its iconic Grand Mosque from the Islamic State militant group (ISIS).

The Iraqi Army's 9th Armoured Division—supported by militarized police rapid response units—has been deployed to the northwest of Mosul, forming a pincer with elite Iraqi counter terror troops battling through ISIS lines to the south, Reuters reported.

The second front is designed to speed the advance into Mosul's old city centre and its medieval Grand al-Nuri Mosque, where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared his Caliphate in the summer of 2014.

Read More: U.S. coalition failing to protect civilians in Mosul, Amnesty says

Re-taking the mosque in Iraq's second largest city—the militant group's last remaining urban stronghold in the country—would be a huge propaganda victory for the Iraqi Army and its U.S. backers.

As such, Iraqi commanders have said they will liberate the last remaining neighbourhoods in the city held by ISIS by the end of May. Fighters loyal to Baghdadi remain ensconced in a northwestern corner of the besieged city.

Iraqi forces fighting as part of the U.S.-backed coalition have opened a second northern front in a bid to punch through into the city's besieged historic centre and retake its iconic Grand Mosque from the Islamic State militant group (ISIS).

The Iraqi Army's 9th Armoured Division—supported by militarized police rapid response units—has been deployed to the northwest of Mosul, forming a pincer with elite Iraqi counter terror troops battling through ISIS lines to the south, Reuters reported.

The second front is designed to speed the advance into Mosul's old city centre and its medieval Grand al-Nuri Mosque, where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared his Caliphate in the summer of 2014.

Read More: U.S. coalition failing to protect civilians in Mosul, Amnesty says

Re-taking the mosque in Iraq's second largest city—the militant group's last remaining urban stronghold in the country—would be a huge propaganda victory for the Iraqi Army and its U.S. backers.

As such, Iraqi commanders have said they will liberate the last remaining neighborhoods in the city held by ISIS by the end of May. Fighters loyal to Baghdadi remain ensconced in a northwestern corner of the besieged city.