Tabnak - As the Muslims all around the Islamic world – including Iraq – celebrate Eid al-Fitr, recent reports published by the local sources indicate that the operation to retake Mosul from ISIS terrorists has reached its final, most crucial phase. As such, it could be said that the ISIS’ days in Iraq are now actually numbered.
Iranian news outlet Press TV quotes a senior Iraqi commander as saying that Iraqi forces have so far managed to liberate two thirds of Mosul’s Old City from the grip of ISIS terrorists as they are engaged in fierce street battles to purge the country’s second largest city of Takfiri elements.
"Sixty-five to 70 percent of the Old City has been liberated, there is less than a square kilometer left to retake,” Lieutenant Colonel Salam al-Obeidi of the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) said on Sunday. He estimated that only "a few hundred ISIS militants” are left in the Old City.
Lieutenant General Abdul Ghani al-Assadi, commander of the CTS, reiterated Obeidi’s remarks, saying that "Only a small part remains in the city, specifically the Old City.” He went further, saying that "from a military perspective, Daesh (ISIS) is finished. It lost its fighting spirit and its balance, we are making calls to them to surrender or die."
Citing Iraqi military, Reuters reports that the area now under ISIS control in Mosul, once the militant group's de facto capital in Iraq, is less than 2 sq kms, the Iraqi military said. An attempt by ISIS terrorists late on Sunday to return to neighborhoods outside the Old City failed, Assadi said, adding the city would fall "in very few days, God willing".
However, CNN depicts a rather more cautious picture of the situation, citing the US-led coalition spokesman Col. Joseph Scrocca’s remarks that "There is still tough fighting to go.”
"In the Old City, just a few fighters can hold things up for some time," Scrocca said. "The ISF (Iraqi Security Forces) and coalition must be deliberate to protect the civilians that are still alive but quick enough to save them from starvation. It is a delicate balance."
On the situation of the Mosul inhabitants, Euro News reports that desperate civilians continued to flee western Mosul on Sunday as fears grow for the thousands still trapped in the city. According to this report, a makeshift hospital near the frontline is now treating some of the worst injured Mosul civilians.
It should be also noted that the terrorists last week destroyed the historic Grand al-Nuri Mosque and its leaning minaret from which their leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a caliphate spanning parts of Iraq and Syria three years ago. The mosque's grounds still remain under ISIS control.
However, Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units, have made sweeping gains against ISIS 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.