A member of Iraq’s counter terrorism service stands next to casings of mortar ammunition at the positions of Iraqi forces, at the Old City in Mosul on June 29 2017. Picture: REUTERS
A member of Iraq’s counter terrorism service stands next to casings of mortar ammunition at the positions of Iraqi forces, at the Old City in Mosul on June 29 2017. Picture: REUTERS

Mosul — Iraq will declare victory in the eight-month battle to retake second city Mosul from jihadists in the "next few days," a senior commander said on Friday.

"In the next few days, we will announce the final victory over Daesh," staff Lt-Gen Abdulghani al-Assadi said in Mosul, using the Arabic acronym for the Islamic State (IS) group.

Iraqi forces launched the gruelling battle for Mosul on October 17, advancing to the city and retaking its eastern side before setting their sights on the smaller but more densely populated west.

IS is now confined to a small area of Mosul’s Old City, but its narrow streets and the presence of civilians has made the operation to retake it perilous.

Assadi estimated that there were between 200 and 300 IS fighters left in the city, most of them foreigners.

The battle has taken a heavy toll on civilians, leaving hundreds dead or wounded and displacing hundreds of thousands more.

IS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces backed by US-led air strikes and other support have since regained much of the territory they lost.

AFP

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