Endgame in Mosul: Iraqi forces storm the Islamic State-held Old City

Iraqi authorities will imminently announce a final victory in the battle to recapture Mosul from the Islamic State group, a US general said Saturday.

“An announcement is imminent,” Brigadier General Robert Sofge told AFP by phone from Baghdad.

“I don’t want to speculate if it’s today or tomorrow but I think it’s going to be very soon,” he added.

The jihadists that remain in Mosul are fighting to the death in a tiny area of just two blocks of the Old City next to the Tigris River, Sofge said, and those that remain are “desperate.”

Some are trying to blend in with fleeing civilians by shaving their beards and changing their clothes, others are playing dead then detonating explosive vests as Iraqi security forces come close. Women IS fighters have blown themselves up amid throngs of displaced civilians.

“They are doing as much damage as they can during these final moves,” Sofge said.

The battle for Mosul first began on October 16, 2016 and the fight has seemed to grow exponentially tougher as US-backed Iraqi security forces closed in on the center of the city.

Slowing the advance toward the final holdouts, IS have placed countless booby traps and bombs in practically every structure they occupied.

“The enemy has strung IEDs all over the place, in every place, in every closet, in one case under a crib,” Sofge said.

A final victory in Mosul would mark an epic milestone for the Iraqi security forces, who had crumbled in the face of an IS onslaught across Iraq in 2014. (READ MORE from AFP)

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