Hawzah News Agency (Mosul, Iraq) - The assault was announced by the military on Sunday, a day after the country’s battle to retake the city entered its ninth month.
Staff Lieutenant General Abdulamir Yarallah, who commands army operations in Nineveh Province, said Iraqi special forces, the regular army and Federal Police are taking part in the operation which began Sunday at dawn.
The Old City is home to the centuries-old al-Nuri Mosque, where Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivered a Friday sermon in 2014 as his group declared a caliphate in the areas it controlled in Syria and Iraq.
"This is the last chapter" in the Mosul offensive, said Lieutenant General Abdul Ghani al-Asadi, the commander of the Counter Terrorism Service (CTS), which comprises crack forces.
Battle is especially hard in the district given its structure of intertwined narrow passageways, where some 100,000 civilians are trapped and being used by the terror outfit as human shields. The Iraqi forces, hence, are trying to liberate the district house by house.
The Takfiri terrorists, meanwhile, have been shooting down civilians trying to flee on foot or via the Tigris River, the United Nations has reported.
Daesh started its campaign of bloodshed and destruction against Iraq and Syria in 2014. The same year, it named Mosul and the northern Syrian city of Raqqah as its capitals.
Iraqi government forces regained eastern Mosul in January. A month later, they began the offensive on the western side.
Reports from the eastern side have depicted the situation as normal, with the civilians going about their daily business.
Also, Raqqah is currently being approached from various sides by Syrian troops and US-led militants in a final push to retake the city.