100 BBC staffers getting more pay, perks than British PM

The BBC is today being forced to admit that nearly 100 of its stars are paid more than the Prime Minister. For the first time, the corporation will have to say which of its household names are on more than £150,000 a year. One is paid up to 2 million Pounds a year.

The stars have been warned to expect public anger over the huge sums. There will also be allegations of sexism – only a third of the high earners are women – and a backlash from staff on lower salaries.

The corporation¿s annual report is expected to reveal that Gary Lineker is one of its highest paid stars

The corporation’s annual report is expected to reveal that Gary Lineker is one of its highest paid stars

Chris Evans is also among the highest paid stars at the BBC. In a bid to limit the damage, BBC boss Lord Hall has sent a video message to all staff reminding them that their salaries are large sums to most licence fee payers.

‘We are dealing with the public’s money,’ he said. ‘This is not something we can take lightly.’

The BBC fought tooth and nail against a government order to publish the figures. It then tried to delay their release, Daily Mail reports today.

In a sign of further panic, stars have been told they can defend their pay on social media – breaking with normal BBC protocol. Bosses have warned every staffer on £150,000 or more that their details will be published and in some against the public reaction.

The corporation’s annual report is expected to reveal that:

  • Gary Lineker and Chris Evans are among the biggest earners;
  • The gender pay gap is even worse for older stars;
  • Sports presenters are some of the highest paid;
  • 306 senior managers earn more than £42million between them.

The meetings have fuelled jealousy among other presenters who are now demanding why they are not paid similar sums.

It is understood that today’s figures will show that the BBC’s overall bill for on screen and on air talent – not just those earning more than £150,000 – was £194 million last year.

However, it will argue that the bill for top talent – those on £150,000 or more – has fallen by a tenth in a year, and a quarter over the five years

Lord Hall cautioned staff against making comparisons: ‘A word of warning; comparing people’s pay is not straightforward. Very few do precisely the same thing – people working at the same show may have other – or different – commitments.’

In a bid to limit the damage, BBC boss Lord Hall has sent a video message to all staff reminding them that their salaries are large sums to most licence fee payers

However, he apologised to staff for the startling difference in pay for men and women: ‘Of the talent earning over £150,000 – two thirds are men and one third are women. Is that where we want to be? No. Are we pushing further and faster than any other major broadcaster? Most certainly.’

Marr’s BBC pay deal cut by £140,000

Andrew Marr had his pay cut by a quarter

Andrew Marr had his pay cut by a quarter

Andrew Marr had his pay cut by a quarter after he scaled back on work following his stroke.

The BBC host earns £400,475 a year – £140,000 less than he was paid before his stroke in 2013.

He also receives a financial boost from royalties from a dozen books – including bestsellers linked to BBC programmes he has hosted, such as History of the World.

Marr, who fronts a Sunday morning BBC1 politics programme and Radio 4’s Start The Week, accepted a lower salary when his pay deal came up for renewal in 2015.

The former BBC political editor was left partially paralysed down his left side after suffering a stroke in January 2013. He returned to his Sunday morning show nine months later.

However, the 57-year-old has decided to cut down on extra shows alongside his regular programmes, in order to prevent a relapse. The journalist said recently that the BBC’s pay disclosures would be ‘uncomfortable’ for all those affected.

His deal, pushing him into the BBC’s £400,000 to £450,000 band by a whisker, runs until 2018.

The difference in pay for men and women presenting programmes together is likely to cause the greatest uproar. A very senior source said: ‘One of the issues here is the massive gender gap.’

Another added: ‘It is pretty uncomfortable if two people are sat at the same desk or on the same sofa, and the man is paid more than the woman for what is ostensibly the same job.’

The BBC claimed releasing the figures – in £50,000 salary bands – would make it easier for rivals to poach staff and force up the talent bill.

When it lost the argument, it argued it should have to publish salary details only for people on £450,000 or above.

It also fought to delay publication to buy time to even up the gender pay gap and move staff off its books.

It has to publish salary details for stars it employs directly, including news presenters, the vast majority of radio hosts and other key television stars.

However, some major names such as Graham Norton and Mary Berry will escape the list because presenters employed via a third-party production company will not have their pay disclosed.

The BBC will be able to keep the pay of dozens of its top TV stars a secret in future years because it has spun off its production arm, BBC Studios, as a commercial company subject to the same loophole.

This will be of limited help to the BBC this year when most of its on-screen talent will face the full glare of public scrutiny.

One ministerial source told the Mail: ‘They have resisted this all the way. They have fought against it tooth and nail.’

Lord Tony Hall told staff yesterday: ‘In all the negotiations with the Government about our Royal Charter, we said it would be wrong to put the names of our talent against what they’re paid. We do believe in transparency. In fact, we, uniquely in the media, have published what we’ve been paying to talent in bands for the last seven years – but without naming them.

 

NBP reports growth in its share of remittances despite global slump

NBP head office
Corporate Ambassador/KARACHI: Seldom before home remittances have been vitally important for emerging economies like Pakistan as they are today. With immense pressure on sustaining and improving our foreign currency reserves, in the backdrop of struggling exports, home remittances has the potential to fill in the critical gap.
irtizakazmi“NBP has experienced a growth in its Home Remittance’s market share despite a reduction in home remittances by 3.08% in FY2017”, said S. H. Irtiza Kazmi, Group Head – Global Home Remittances at NBP. This turnaround has been made possible by the keen interest that the NBP management has shown in improving the overall business for the bank.
Continuous efforts have been made by NBP to provide superior services to its remittance customers through its extensive online branch network of more than 1,400 branches and 1100 ATMs, new alliances with international money sending businesses (MSBs) and through focused marketing of its products both in the local as well as international markets.
IrtizaKazmi speech
Home remittances has been one of the major factors sustaining the economy over the past several years. Special focus by the Ministry of Finance and the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) through Pakistan Remittance Initiative (PRI) has helped increase the remittances to Pakistan through legal channels from USD11.20 billion in 2011 to USD19.30 billion in 2017.
Remittances volume from Australia to NBP increased by 150%+ during June 2017 alone. This was the result of one of several marketing campaigns that NBP launched during Apr-Jun quarter. One of the marketing campaigns with a leading MSB in GCC (including KSA and UAE) resulted in volume growth of 16% month-on-month. Yet another marketing campaign with a leading bank in KSA showed volume increase of 17%.
nbp-rewarding-remittance
Several similar campaigns are also planned to be launched in the second half of 2017.
NBP is also working closely with the Ministry of Overseas Employment and HR development and Pakistani embassies/consulates across the globe to educate the existing and future expatriates regarding NBP’s remittance services. NBP has taken a lead in promoting legal channels to send remittances to Pakistan and discouraging Hundi/Hawala which are the key factors hampering the growth of formal remittance business in Pakistan through legal/banking channels.
Irtizakazmi speech1
Introduction of Foree Remittance Account, an account designed especially for the remittance customers by National Bank is another step towards promoting financial inclusion. It is the most convenient way to receive remittances by beneficiaries in Pakistan getting free SMS alerts. The Foree Remittance Account launched in 2014, has seen a stable growth in the deposit base for the bank while providing banking services to the unbanked population. With SBP’s vision to increase the ATM penetration, NBP Foree Remittance Account holders have the facility to withdraw cash from any linked ATM across Pakistan.
Irtizakazmi speech2
It is NBP’s vision to provide unmatched services to its remittance customers through digital platform integration. NBP is also moving towards creating digital disruption in the existing remittance market by introducing technologically advanced products to its customers. This will eliminate the need to visit a branch to collect remittances or even to visit an ATM hence offering a one window solution for various banking needs.
NBP, under the leadership of a forward-looking management is striving with renewed vigor and fervor to provide seamless banking services to all its customers. Improving our services is the number one priority and we will leave no stone unturned to achieve new heights in our service standards. We are committed to live by our slogan of being The Nation’s Bank.

One major cyber-attack t cost $121 billion damage to global economy

Cyber attack image

DUBAI: A major cyber-attack could potentially trigger up to $121 billion losses in the global economy, comparatively bigger compared with the damage caused by the US catastrophic natural disasters such as hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.
Lloyd’s of London, in a joint research with risk-modeling firm Cyence, studied two scenarios and their potential economic impact: a malicious hack that takes down a cloud service provider, and cyberattacks on computer operating systems run by major businesses around the world, Arab News reports.

In 2016, cyber-attacks caused a damage worth as much as $450 billion a year.
Lloyd’s has estimated that the uninsured gap could be as much as $45 billion for the cloud services scenario, meaning that less than a fifth of the economic losses are actually covered by insurance.“For the cloud service disruption scenario, average economic losses range from $4.6 billion from a large event to $53 billion for an extreme event,” the world’s oldest insurer said in its 56-page report.
“Because of the uncertainty around aggregating cyber losses this figure could be as high as $121 billion or as low as $15 billion,” depending on factors such as the different organizations involved and how long the cloud service disruption continues.
Lloyd’s said economic damage from a massive cyber-attack would be higher than the $108 billion caused by hurricane Katrina in 2005, and the $70 billion in losses from hurricane Sandy in 2012.

In comparison, the WannaCry ransomware attack in May, which infected more than 230,000 computers in over 150 countries, was estimated to have cost the global economy at least $4 billion. Inga Beale, chief executive of Lloyd’s, said: “Just like some of the worst natural catastrophes, cyber events can cause a severe impact on businesses and economies, trigger multiple claims and dramatically increase insurers’ claims costs. Underwriters need to consider cyber cover in this way and ensure that premium calculations keep pace with the cyber threat reality.”

Meanwhile, the insurance gap could be as high as $26 billion for the mass vulnerability scenario, meaning that just 7 percent of economic losses are covered.
Cyber cover is a relatively new type of insurance that has emerged in the last few years, of which Lloyds’s accounts for about a quarter of global premiums, and is harder to model and understand than natural catastrophe cover.
Consulting firm PwC estimates that annual gross written premiums are to increase from around $2.5 billion today to about $7.5 billion by the end of the decade.

Madiha to be Chairperson of 10th Corporate Ambassador Awards in Karachi

10th Awards in Karachi

Madiha Gohar, Karachi’s renowned Fashion Designer and CEO of her company, Madiha’s Designs, has consented to join us in the 10th Corporate Ambassador Awards as Chairperson. Name of Chief Guest will be announced later. 10th CA Awards is being organised in last week of July-2017 in Karachi. Organisations/Individual Professionals & students with notable achievements can send their nominations to Mr Javed Mahmood, Editor at jchoudhry63@gmail.com or WhatsApp to him on 0334-3939029

MadihaGohar _ Finest Fashion Designer

Madiha Gohar11

Madiha with a model

Karachi’s renowned awards winner multi-talented showbiz personality Roomi Syed is also joining 10th Awards as Guest of Honour.

Roomisyed

Fouzia Javed Roomisyed

Roomisyed 3rd CA Award1

Rozina Jalal, Karachi’s famous Astrologist is joining 10th awards as Special Guest. Last time Rozina Jalal was the Chairperson of 8th Awards held in Karachi. 9th Awards was organised in Islamabad.

Rozina Jalal

Rozinajalal

Kafil Burney
Rakhshanda Jabeen is also a banker and a brand ambassador in Multan. She is also joining our 10th Awards programme

Ijaz Ali is a Motivational Speaker and Columnist from Okara is also joining this awards programme.

Ijaz Okara2

Faisal Khan, a short-movie maker and Performing Arts expert is joining us from Larkana, Sindh.

8th Awards group photo3

 

Rozina Jalal, Chairperson of 8th Awards with Madiha Gohar, Yasmeen Mirza, Turab Shah, Javed Mahmood and Ihtesham Malik.

8th Awards Backdrop for Facebook

About Corporate Ambassador Awards

After organising 9th awards in April 2017 at Hotel Crown Plaza, Jinnah Avenue, Islamabad in April 2017, we are now organizing 10th Corporate Ambassador Awards in Karachi in last week of July 2017 at the state-of-the-art auditorium of Pakistan Society for Training and Development, located in 34th street, opposite to main gate of Royal Rodale Club in DHA Phase-5 Extension, Karachi from 4:30pm to 6:30pm. Name of Chief Guest and other key guests will be announced later on.

Corporate Ambassador Awards is a social and corporate award in which we are giving awards since 2012 to organisations, CEOs, individual professionals, social activists, Journalists/TV Anchors and students for their notable achievements with the aim to motivate people to follow the path of high achievers in the society. This awards is the initiative of weekly Corporate Ambassador, founded by senior journalist/Editor, Javed Mahmood, that aims at encouraging the people, doing noble work and motivating others to follow the high-achievers.

Since 2012, more than 200 organisations and individual professionals belonging to different fields, including students have been honoured with different categories of awards recommended by our Jury Committee.

Most prominent organisations that have got our awards are National Bank of Pakistan, Allied Bank, Habib Bank, Silkbank Limited, EFU General Insurance, Dr Essa Laboratory & Diagnostic Center, Pakistan Standard & Quality Control Authority, Trade Development Authority of Pakistan, Center for Research and Security Studies, Sindh Archives Department, Hafeez Ghee & General Mills and Associated Industries Ltd owned by International Multi-Group of Companies (Shama Ghee/Oil brand), Pakistan National Council of Accreditation, Majmua Art Gallery, Eye For Art, Flash Security Company, Pakistan Council for Scientific & Industrial Research and many more. The list of individual award winners is very long and they can be seen in our awards links published by Corporate Ambassador.

Worth to mention is that we give 50 percent of our awards free of cost to Social Activists, professionals and students having notable achievements with the objective to encourage them to achieve more milestones of success in future.

Here are Jury Members of the Corporate Ambassador Awards

Awards Jury Members

Here is link of 9th Awards held in Hotel Crown Plaza in Islamabad recently.

https://weeklycorporateambassador.wordpress.com/2017/05/07/9th-corporate-ambassador-awards-appreciation-is-must-for-encouragement/

Queen gets first-ever black assistant in British history

Queen's black

LONDON: A new personal assistant selected by the Queen is to become the first black equerry in British history. Major Nana Kofi Twumasi-Ankrah, a Ghanaian-born officer who fought in the Afghanistan war, will fill one of the most important roles in the royal household, The Times reports.

As an equerry, Major Twumasi-Ankrah – known as “TA” to his friends – will act as one of the Queen’s most-trusted attendants, assisting her with official engagements and welcoming high profile guests to royal residences.

Historically, the role was created for someone to look after the cavalry’s horses, but in modern times an equerry is expected to be publicly visible as an aide at the Queen’s side.

The appointment is said to be especially important now the Duke of Edinburgh is set to retire from public life this year.

Major TA, 38, moved to the UK from Ghana with his parents in 1982. He studied at Queen Mary University in London and the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, reports daily Independent. He joined the Blues and Royals to become the first black British Army officer commissioned into the Household Cavalry and acted as escort commander for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011.

In the same year, he commanded the Blues and Royals taking part in the Queen’s birthday parade.

Pregnant boy in UK gives birth to baby-girl

Boy gives birth to girl

LONDON: A 21-year-old man has become the first in Britain to give birth after he put his sex transition on hold to get pregnant by a sperm donor. Hayden Cross, who made headlines around the world earlier this year when he announced he was pregnant by a sperm donor, has given birth to a girl.

Cross told The Sun that daughter Trinity-Leigh is his “angel”. Cross gave birth by caesarean. The girl was born on June 16 at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.

He had been living legally as a man for three years and was already part-way through hormone treatment to transform from a woman to a man. But the full transition was paused after the UK’s state- funded National Health Service (NHS) refused to carry out a 4,000-pounds process to freeze his eggs — which he hoped would enable him to have children in the future, reports TOI.

The former supermarket worker instead found a sperm donor via Facebook and became successfully pregnant.

“She’s perfect in every way… she is so good. I’m so lucky,” Cross was quoted as saying.

Following the birth, Cross now plans to return to complete his gender realignment as soon as possible.

The proud father was born a girl named Paige, 21 years ago.

Cross, from Gloucester, had said earlier, “I faced the prospect of not becoming the man I’m supposed to be, physically, or a dad. So I didn’t feel like I had any choice but to have a baby now then get back to transitioning.”

“In September I got pregnant by a sperm donation. I found the donor on the internet. I looked on Facebook for a group and found one — it’s been shut down now. I didn’t have to pay,” Cross had said. Cross, who used to work for Asda and in a clothes shop, aims to find a job once the baby is aged one. Gender transition treatment costs the NHS on average 29,000 pounds per patient.

Thomas Beatie became the first man to give birth in the US in 2008. Born a woman, he had a partial sex change but kept his womb and was able to conceive.

China asks its people not to visit India

china-army

BEIJING: Amid the tense border standoff with India, Beijing has asked its citizens not to visit India. The travel advisory to Chinese was issued through the Chinese embassy in New Delhi. It asked Chinese travellers to India to pay close attention to the security situation and take necessary precautions.

China also asked its citizens and companies in India to be careful during the ongoing standoff with India to stay safe from anti-China sentiment in India.

Chinese foreign ministry officials emphasized that it is an “advisory” and not an “alert” that was issued. They didn’t clarify the difference, but it’s likely an “advisory” is milder than an “alert”.

China Parade

On July 5, China had said it was considering issuing such an alert for citizens visiting India, depending on the security situation following the border standoff in Doklam with India.

For the past few weeks, China and India are facing border standoff at different points that heightened tension between the two countries.

“The Chinese government attaches great importance to safety and lawful rights and interests of overseas Chinese citizens in accordance with the security condition of the relevant countries,” said a foreign Ministry spokesman.

Earlier this week, a leading official newspaper in Beijing warned Chinese companies operating in India to be alert and take steps to avoid being hit by anti-China sentiment.

An article in the Global Times called on Chinese firms to reduce their investments in India in view of the tension. China and India have been engaged in the standoff in the Doklam area near the Bhutan tri-junction for the past three weeks.

 

Another worst crisis in real estate prices gripping United Kingdom

After London, Dubai and some other hubs of real estate investment can also embrace with another crisis in property business in 2017

 

Corporate Ambassador Monitoring News/LONDON: House prices are teetering on the brink of a crash that could be as bad as the bust of the early 1990s, experts have warned.

There are already warning signs that prices are heading towards a 40 per cent plunge, warns Paul Cheshire, Professor of Economic Geography at the London School of Economics.

It raises the alarming spectre of the return of ‘negative equity’ – when a house falls so far in value it is worth less than the mortgage – which hit one million people at the worst point in the 1990s.

The crash could be as bad as the bust of the early 1990s, one leading expert warned

Speaking exclusively to The Mail on Sunday, Prof Cheshire, a former Government housing adviser, said: ‘We are due a significant correction in house prices. I think we are beginning to see signs that correction may be starting.

‘Historically, trends seem always to start in London and then move out across the rest of the country. In the capital, you are already seeing house prices rising less rapidly than in other parts of Britain.’

This graph shows how growth rates had consistently fallen over the last year – and may continue to slump further.  Such a shift could push many thousands of recent buyers into trouble. From 1989, the price boom fell apart over the next six years, with prices plunging by 37 per cent. In its most recent figures, The National Association of Estate Agents reported the number of homes sold in May for less than the asking price rose to 77 per cent.

 

According to Prof Cheshire, the fall in real incomes – when wages fail to keep up with inflation – is likely to be the spark for a fall in house prices. Inflation hit 2.9 per cent last month, while incomes only grew by 2.1 per cent.

The current housing market bears similarities to the housing crash of the early 90s (pictured), when average prices dropped from £62,000 to £50,000 

The current housing market bears similarities to the housing crash of the early 90s (pictured), when average prices dropped from £62,000 to £50,000

Property experts and estate agents say the housing market in wealthier pockets of the country has been further hit by stamp duty hikes, reports Daily Mail in London.

Prof Christian Hilber of the LSE also warned: ‘If Brexit leads to a recession and/or sluggish growth for extended periods, then an extended and severe downturn is more likely than a short-lived and mild one.’

The Council of Mortgage Lenders said earlier this month that the housing market had ‘stalled’.

If Brexit leads to a recession or sluggish growth then an extended downturn is likely, one expert warned 

If Brexit leads to a recession or sluggish growth then an extended downturn is likely, one expert warned .

After United Kingdom, USA, Dubai and some other hubs of real estate investment in the world are also expected to face crisis in this arena that has seen boom in recent years.

‘Historically, trends seem always to start in London and then move out across the rest of the country. In the capital, you are already seeing house prices rising less rapidly than in other parts of Britain.’

This graph shows how growth rates had consistently fallen over the last year – and may continue to slump further. Such a shift could push many thousands of recent buyers into trouble. From 1989, the price boom fell apart over the next six years, with prices plunging by 37 per cent. In its most recent figures, The National Association of Estate Agents reported the number of homes sold in May for less than the asking price rose to 77 per cent.

According to Prof Cheshire, the fall in real incomes – when wages fail to keep up with inflation – is likely to be the spark for a fall in house prices. Inflation hit 2.9 per cent last month, while incomes only grew by 2.1 per cent.

The current housing market bears similarities to the housing crash of the early 90s (pictured), when average prices dropped from £62,000 to £50,000 

The current housing market bears similarities to the housing crash of the early 90s (pictured), when average prices dropped from £62,000 to £50,000

Property experts and estate agents say the housing market in wealthier pockets of the country has been further hit by stamp duty hikes.

Prof Christian Hilber of the LSE also warned: ‘If Brexit leads to a recession and/or sluggish growth for extended periods, then an extended and severe downturn is more likely than a short-lived and mild one.’

The Council of Mortgage Lenders said earlier this month that the housing market had ‘stalled’.

If Brexit leads to a recession or sluggish growth then an extended downturn is likely, one expert warned 

If Brexit leads to a recession or sluggish growth then an extended downturn is likely, one expert warned. After United Kingdom, other countries like USA, UAE (Dubai) and some other major hubs of real estate investment in the world are expected to face crisis in property business.

end

NIB merged into MCB Bank

NIB MCB

State Bank of Pakistan has approved this merger and by July 13, 2017, NIB and its customers will become the part of the MCB Bank.

Corporate Ambassador/KARACHI: The State Bank of Pakistan has approved the merger of NIB Bank Limited with and into MCB Bank Limited. Within a period of one month from the date of approval of the merger, 13th June 2017, NIB will merge into MCB and consequently you will become the customer of MCB.

NIB Letter

MCB is one of Pakistan’s leading banks and is renowned for its financial strength, quality banking services, an advanced technological infrastructure and highly professional team. In its operations spanning over 70 years, MCB has developed an asset base of over PKR 1.2 trillion, a network of more than 1,240 branches and over 1,200 ATMs across Pakistan along with global operations with a customer base of over 6 million.

The Pakistan Credit Rating Agency (PACRA) has assigned MCB a long-term and short-term entity credit rating of AAA, and A1+ respectively. As a result of the merger, the customers of NIB will become part of a larger banking platform. MCB has the scale, human capital, core competencies and infrastructure to take advantage of greater opportunities in the areas of banking and finance in Pakistan. The customers of NIB will also gain access to a diversified portfolio of banking products and services to meet their financial needs.

 

During the integration process, NIB will be working closely with the MCB team to ensure seamless transition for all our customers, said CEO/President of NIB Yameen Kerai in a message sent to the customers of the bank. For now, no changes will be made to your banking account and services. It will be our priority to contact you as and when any change occurs and we will keep you updated with further details as the merger progresses.

end

 

 

Daesh caliphate in Iraq ‘no more’, says Iraqi PM

 

Daesh commander

Corporate Ambassador News Desk/MOSUL, Iraq: Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi declared an end to the Daesh caliphate Thursday after Iraqi forces captured the compound of a landmark mosque in Mosul that was blown up last week by the Daesh group.
“We are seeing the end of the fake Daesh state. The liberation of Mosul proves that,” Haider Al-Abadi said using the Arabic acronym for Daesh in a statement posted to twitter. “We will not relent, our brave forces will bring victory,” he added.
But even as the Iraqi leader issued his statement, heavy clashes continued to unfold in Mosul — filling field hospitals and forcing hundreds to flee.

Two weeks before this development, media has reported that Daesh warriors have taken full control of Tora Bora caves in Afghanistan that are very close to border with Pakistan. Daesh expelled Talibans from Tora Bora, got control of this area two weeks back and they are also getting weapons supply from their hosts. Guess who they are????
The destroyed Al-Nuri mosque retaken by Iraqi special forces Thursday following a dawn push is a hugely symbolic win. The site is where Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi made his only public appearance in July 2014, declaring a self-styled Islamic “caliphate,” encompassing territories then-held by Daesh in Syria and Iraq, Arab News reported on Thursday.

Iraqi PM

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi

Iraqi and coalition officials said Daesh blew up the mosque complex last week. TheDaesh group has blamed a US airstrike for the destruction, a claim rejected by a spokesman for the US-led coalition who said coalition planes “did not conduct strikes in that area at that time.”

The advances Thursday come as Iraqi troops are pushing deeper into the Old City, a densely populated neighborhood west of the Tigris River where Daesh fighters are making their last stand in Iraq’s second-largest city. Clashes were ongoing into the evening Thursday, according to Associated Press reporters on the scene.

Last week Iraqi forces launched the operation to retake the Old City’s narrow alleyways and dense clusters of homes, embarking on some of the most difficult urban combat in the Daesh fight to date. Daesh now holds less than 2 square kilometers (0.8 square miles) of territory inside Mosul, but the advances have come at considerable cost.
Damaged and destroyed houses dot the route Iraqi forces have carved into the congested district and the stench of rotting bodies rises from beneath mounds of rubble.
“There are hundreds of bodies under the rubble,” said special forces Maj. Dhia Thamir, deployed inside the Old City. He added that all the dead bodies along the special forces’ route were of Daesh fighters.

Special forces Maj. Gen. Sami Al-Aridi acknowledged that some civilians have been killed by airstrikes and artillery in the fight for the Old City. “Of course there is collateral damage, it is always this way in war,” he said.
“The houses are very old,” he said, referring to the Old City, “so any bombardment causes them to collapse completely.”

US-led coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon told reporters at the Pentagon that victory in Mosul was “imminent” and would likely occur “in days rather than weeks.”
But, he continued, “the Old City still remains a difficult, dense, suffocating fight — tight alleyways with booby traps, civilians, and (Daesh) fighters around every corner.”
Some 300 IS fighters remain holed up inside the Old City according to Iraq’s special forces along with an estimated 50,000 civilians according to the United Nations.
Nearly a thousand civilians fled Mosul’s Old City Thursday, according to Col. Ali Al-Kenani, an Iraqi intelligence officer at a west Mosul screening center. Families covered in dust huddled in the shade of half destroyed storefronts waiting for flat-bed trucks to move them to camps.