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Mortar attack in eastern Mosul kills at least 4 people

By Andrew V. Pestano

March 27 (UPI) -- Iraqi officials said at least four people died and dozens were injured due to two mortar attacks on a busy marketplace in eastern Mosul.

At least five shops burned down in the attack targeting the Nabi Younis marketplace in eastern Mosul on Sunday, Rudaw reported. Iraqi security forces fully captured eastern Mosul in January.

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It was not clear who was behind the attack on the market but some officials accused the Islamic State. Some reports indicate up to 16 people may have died in the attack.

RELATED Iraq denies airstrike caused civilian deaths in Mosul

Mosul is separated into eastern and western halves by the Tigris River. Iraq launched its military offensive to retake western Mosul from the Islamic State, also known as Daesh, ISIL and ISIS, on Feb. 19. The offensive to retake the full city began Oct. 17, led by Iraqi forces and aided by the Kurdish Peshmerga, a Shiite-led militia and the U.S.-led international coalition.

Iraqi Gen. Muhammad Jawad told Rudaw Iraqi forces hope to make gains in the coming days as they advance into west Mosul's Old City, where they hope to capture the Great Mosque of al-Nuri, or Noor mosque, where leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is believed to have declared the Islamic State.

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Iraqi forces are about 300 feet away from entrenched Islamic State militants in the Old City, Iraqi military officials said on Sunday.

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