Meanwhile, CNN reports that coalition commander - U.S. Lt. -Gen.
Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the commander of USA forces in Iraq and Syria, confirmed in an interview today that he still wants more ground troops in Syria, saying the troops would be needed to "fight ISIS," and adding that he hoped the invasion of Raqqa would be "underway by this summer".
USA -led military campaigns implemented against the Islamic State in the region have recently intensified however there have also been an increasing record of both friendly fire and civilian casualties.
"This enemy in Mosul is not going anywhere", he said, later adding, "They're not going to be able to leave to the west; they are cut off. ..."
Lise Grande, U.N. Iraq humanitarian coordinator, says: "The level of damage in western Mosul is already far greater than in the east, even before the battle to retake the Old City begins".
In that time, "huge numbers" of bodies passed through the morgue, he said, many of them civilians, former policeman and ex-soldiers killed by the militants.
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.
"One of the things it's very important to understand is that millions of people have been able to return to their homes because of the rollback of ISIS territorial gains", he said.
"Once that task is accomplished, the coalition will be here to support our Iraqi partners as they eliminate IS from every corner of Iraq", Colonel John Dorrian said.
While progress continues, the colonel said, it's still a slow, tough fight. "I don't want to say they continue to advance at pace, when in reality, it's very, very slow and it's a very, very hard, gut-busting fight between our forces and theirs", he said during a teleconference.
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