Victory in Mosul 'about to be announced', Iraq state TV claims

Victory in Mosul 'about to be announced', Iraq state TV claims”

Fleeing Iraqi civilians sit inside a house as they wait to be taken out of the Old City during fighting between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, July 8, 2017.

MOSUL, Iraq (AP) - Iraqi commanders said Saturday their forces are "tens of meters" away from defeating the Islamic State group in Mosul, a day after a major counterattack by the militants.

A military spokesman was cited as saying the insurgents' defence lines were collapsing.

Following nine months of fighting, the city is left in ruins with approximately 200,000 residents left homeless and almost $200 million in destroyed infrastructure alone.

"The battle has reached the phase of chasing the insurgents in remaining blocks", the Iraqi military media office said in a statement. "Some members of Daesh have surrendered".

The jihadists wanted to go back, but security forces "fired on them and killed them", he said, without specifying how many died.

Some 900,000 people have been displaced from the city since 2014 - about half the the pre-war population- aid organisations say.

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Lt. Gen. Sami al-Aridi of Iraq's special forces told The Associated Press that the militants' hold on Mosul has shrunk to a 500 square meter (600 sq. yard) area.

The latest developments come a little more than a week after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared that ISIL's "state of falsehood" had ended after Iraqi forces retook al-Nuri Mosque, where the group proclaimed its self-styled caliphate three years ago.

The UN predicts it will cost more than $1 billion to fix basic infrastructure in Mosul.

In some of the worst affected areas, nearly no buildings appear to have escaped damage, and Mosul's dense construction means the extent of the devastation might be underestimated, United Nations officials said.

The Islamic State will be entirely eradicated from its de facto capital in Mosul by next week, a senior general operating in Iraq said Thursday.

During their impromptu victory celebrations, some of the Iraqi soldiers waved pictures of Hussein, the grand son of prophet Mohammed who is immensely revered by the Shi'ites.

A US -led global coalition is providing air and ground support to the 8-month-old offensive to wrest back Mosul, once the de facto capital of Islamic State in Iraq.

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