World

Iraqi forces close to victory in Mosul

MOSUL: Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters were battling to hold on to the last few streets under their control in the Old City of Mosul yesterday, in what looked like a hopeless final stand in their former stronghold.

In fierce fighting, Iraqi army units forced the insurgents back, cornering them in a shrinking rectangle no more than 300m wide and 500m long by the Tigris river, according to a map published by the military media office.

Smoke covered parts of the Old City, rocked by air strikes and artillery salvos through the morning.

The number of ISIS militants fighting in Mosul has dwindled from thousands at the start of the government offensive more than eight months ago to a mere couple of hundred now, according to the Iraqi military.

Reaching the Tigris would give Iraqi forces full control over the city and this is expected by the end of the week.

ISIS is retaliating with suicide attacks in the parts of Mosul taken by Iraqi forces and elsewhere in the country.

A suicide bomber dressed as a veiled woman killed 14 people and wounded 13 others in a displacement camp west of the capital Baghdad on Sunday, security sources said. ISIS has claimed responsibility.

A US-led international coalition is providing air and ground support to the Mosul offensive by the Iraqi army, elite Counter Terrorism Service units and militarised police. - REUTERS

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