Troops mop up final IS pockets in Mosul

By BBC

The Iraqi army has been mopping up the last pockets of resistance from Islamic State (IS) militants in Mosul, after a long battle to recapture the city.

An official declaration of victory from the government is expected soon.

Iraqi forces, backed by US-led air strikes, have tried to retake the city since 17 October last year.

IS seized Mosul in June 2014 before sweeping across much of Iraq’s Sunni Arab heartland and proclaiming a “caliphate” straddling Iraq and Syria.

But they have been losing ground over the past nine months, as government forces advance on their former Iraqi stronghold.

Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, Sunni Arab tribesmen and Shia militiamen, supported by US-led coalition warplanes and military advisers, have been involved in the battle.

On Saturday the jihadists were desperately holding out in a tiny area near the Old City. State television said troops had expected to take full control within hours.

The government announced the full “liberation” of eastern Mosul in January, but the west of the city has presented a more difficult challenge, with its narrow, winding streets.

Last October, the Iraqi army said there were 6,000 militants in the city. Fewer than 300 were thought to be holding out.

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

Last month, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the destruction of the ancient mosque in the city of Mosul was “an official declaration of defeat” by IS.

Iraqi forces say IS blew up the Great Mosque of al-Nuri and its famous leaning minaret as jihadists battled to stop advancing pro-government troops.

  

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