Mosul’s last remaining streets held by Islamic State group fighters could fall to the Iraqi military in just a few days, according to an army commander leading the assault on the city.
Around 350 IS fighters are believed to be holed up in Mosul’s Old City, where a fierce battle is waging as Iraqi troops advance deeper into the neighbourhood.
Despite fire fights in dense alleyways and booby traps slowing the advance, Lieutenant-General Abdul Ghani al-Assadi from Iraq’s elite Counter-Terrorism said IS’ days are numbered in the city the last neighbourhoods will fall “in very few days”.
“Only a small part [of the fighters] remains in the city, specifically the Old City,” Assadi told Reuters.”From a military perspective, Daesh [IS] is finished. It has lost its fighting spirit and its balance. We are making calls to them to surrender or die.”
It follows claims by Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi that the capture of the whole of Mosul should be achieved in just a “few days”.
Yet around 50,000 civilians remain trapped in the Old City with any strikes in the packed neighbourhood likely to cause casualties.
IS have dug into the ruins of the city and are using homes to fire on the advancing Iraqi military. Suicide bombers and snipers have all been deployed by the doomed jihadi force in the city.
Yet it has not prevented IS launching counter-attacks, with the Iraqi military thwarting the most recent desperate strike on Sunday.
The Counter-Terrorism Team is mopping up in the neighbourhoods that IS suicide bombers launched the surprise attack.
“The group came with the displaced and settled in the Tanak district. They regrouped and launched counter-attacks,” Staff Lieutenant General Abdulwahab al-Saadi told AFP.
“Yarmuk is being searched house to house,” he said, adding that two groups of IS attackers were still believed to be in the area, which lies on the western edge of the city.
Around 20 militants were killed in the operation.