Iraqi government forces have scored more territorial gains in the Old City of Mosul as they push to purge the Daesh 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 on Tuesday 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-Sumaria 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.”
The remarks came a day after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi predicted very quick capture of Mosul as federal police forces said they were only a few days away from ousting militants completely from the Old City.
“The victory announcement will come in a very short time,” Abadi said on his website on Monday evening.
The Iraqi army says up to 350 Daesh militants are believed to be dug among civilians in wrecked houses and crumbling infrastructure of Mosul’s Old City.
The extremists are extensively making use of booby traps, bombers and sniper fire to slow the advance of government forces from the west, the north and the south.
Iraqi forces walk through the rubble of a building as they advance through the Old City of Mosul on June 25, 2017, during the ongoing offensive to retake the last district held by Daesh terrorists. (Photo by AFP)
Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units, commonly known by their Arabic name, Hashd al-Sha’abi, have made sweeping gains against Daesh since launching the Mosul operation on October 17, 2016.
The Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19.
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.