ISIS seals off area around symbolic mosque in Mosul

ISIS group militants have blocked the area around a highly symbolic mosque in Mosul's Old City where the group's leader made his first and only public appearance in 2014, ABC quoted a resident as saying on Friday.

The move came as US-backed Iraqi forces are pushing to recapture the city's remaining pockets.

The militants have ordered families living near al-Nuri mosque also known as the Great Mosque to leave their houses and sealed all the roads leading to it, said the resident who lives in the ISIS-held sections of Mosul.

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi delivered a Friday sermon in al-Nuri mosque in 2014 after ISIS seized almost a third of Iraq and declared an Islamic "caliphate" on territory it controlled in Iraq and neighboring Syria.

The iconic 840-year-old "Crooked Minaret," which leans somewhat like Italy's Tower of Pisa, survived destruction by ISIS militants as residents formed a human chain to protect it when the militants came to blow it up. The extremists demolished dozens of historic and archaeological sites in and around Mosul, saying they promote idolatry.

"The militants are not moving in groups anymore, we see one or two from time to time in the streets as a majority of them are moving through the houses, using the holes they made in the walls," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity for fear for his safety.

"We are dying slowly with no water and no food," the resident said of the deteriorated situation in their areas.