>> I'm Reuters Correspondent Stephen Kalin, south of Mosul with Iraqi police forces who are pushing into western Mosul to take Islamic State's last major stronghold. We're just about a kilometer from Albu Saif, which is a village on a hill right behind me, and it's quite a strategic location.
It's still held by Islamic State at this time, but Iraqi forces are attacking it with everything they've got. They're expecting the western side to be much more difficult because there are narrower streets which even Humvees can't pass through. So a lot of this is gonna have to be very close street to street fighting.
The village is important because it overlooks all of west Mosul, directly at the airport in Mosul. Which the Iraqi forces are planning to use as a staging area for the campaign to retake the rest of western Mosul. And, of course, there are hundreds of thousands of civilians still living inside of western Mosul.
Islamic State is preventing them from escaping. And the Iraqi forces are actually encouraging them to stay in their homes because taking 650,000 or even 800,000 civilians out of the city presents an enormous humanitarian crisis. So far we haven't seen any real displacement of civilians. We believe that most the areas, we're still in outlying areas here in the south.
We believe that most of them were already empty, mostly, of civilians. And those who were left were taken by Islamic State and forced to move into the city proper. So for the time being, the Iraqi forces are making pretty quick progress. But once they get into the city itself, we're expecting it to be much slower and grinding.