Iraqi government forces scored more territorial gains in the Old City of Mosul as they push to purge the ISIL Takfiri terrorists from their urban stronghold in the conflict-stricken Arab country in an eight-month military campaign.
Commander of Federal Police Forces Lieutenant General Shaker Jawdat said that his forces had liberated the ancient al-Ziwani Mosque in the Old City’s Southwestern area of Bab al-Baid, and forced militants out of the historic site, Arabic-language al-Sumariyah television network reported.
Jawdat added that security forces had about 600 meters (2,000 feet) left to cover before they reached Cornishe Street alongside the western bank of the Tigris.
“In a few days our forces will reach Cornishe Street and bring the battle to its conclusion,” the senior Iraqi police commander pointed out.
Lieutenant General Abdulwahab al-Saadi of the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) also stated, “The operation is continuing to free the remaining parts of the Old City.”
According to the Iraqi military, the battle to wrest full control of the Iraqi city of Mosul from ISIL group will be over in a few days.
Lieutenant-General Abdul Ghani al-Assadi, commander of the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) in Mosul, announced on Monday that units were battling ISIL fighters among the narrow alleyways of the historic Old City, Al-Jazeera reported.
A senior commander stressed that an attempted fightback by ISIL failed on Sunday night and the group’s hold on the city, once its de facto capital in Iraq, was weakened.
“Only a small part [of the fighters] remains in the city, specifically the Old City,” Assadi told Reuters news agency.
“From a military perspective, Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) is finished. It has lost its fighting spirit and its balance. We are making calls to them to surrender or die,” he added.
As CTS units battled fighters in the densely populated maze of tiny streets of the Old City, which lies by the Western bank of the Tigris river, Assadi stressed that the area under ISIL control in Mosul was now less than 2sq km.
He also predicted Mosul will fall “in very few days”.
According to reports, up to 350 fighters are estimated by the Iraqi military to be besieged in the Old City, dug in among civilians in crumbling houses and making extensive use of booby traps, suicide bombers and sniper fire to slow down the advance of Iraqi troops.
The countdown has started for accomplishing the recapture of the Western part of the strategic city of Mosul from the ISIL as Iraq’s joint military forces have laid full siege on the terrorists.
Iraqi government forces pushed deeper in Mosul’s militant-held district of Old City as they are battling to purge ISIL Takfiri militants out of their last bastion in the country’s second largest city, warning civilians to stay inside and telling terrorists to “surrender or die.”
The ISIL militants committed another historical crime on Wednesday by blowing up the al-Nuri mosque and its historical al-Hadba minaret.
Mosul’s al-Nuri mosque is highly symbolic because it was there that leader of the ISIL group, Ibrahim al-Samarrai, also known as Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, declared himself the so-called caliphate of the Takfiri terrorist group, shortly after the flashpoint city fell to militants in June 2014 and became their de facto capital in Iraq.
The Iraqi operation to recapture Mosul, the key ISIL stronghold in Iraq, began in October 2016 and resulted in the liberation of Mosul’s Eastern part in January 2017. The Iraqi Army started a new phase of its military operation in Nineveh province late February to drive the ISIL terrorists out of their bastion in the Western part of the city of Mosul.
An estimated 862,000 people have been displaced from Mosul ever since the battle to retake the city began nine months ago. A total of 195,000 civilians have also returned, mainly to the liberated areas of Eastern Mosul.
The second largest city in Iraq fell to the ISIL group in 2014, when the Takfiri terrorists began a campaign of death and destruction in the Arab country.