Wave after wave of people continue to flee Mosul as the last grueling stages of the fight to liberate the Iraqi city rage on.
While Iraqi troops have forced the last of Daesh [the Arabic acronym for the Takfiri ‘ISIS/ISIL' group] hardened fighters into a handful of neighborhoods on the side of the city west of the Tigris River, the campaign stalled last week as attempts to open a new front on the narrow streets of the Old City from the south failed.
A new battle plan involving a northwest advance has seen swifter success, said Iraqi special forces Lieutenant General Sami al-Arathi in a statement on Thursday, after a week in which more than 11,000 people risked sniper and mortar fire as they poured out of the city.
"Daesh didn't have any real defenses prepared there for this new thrust and its manpower was depleted [...] That has led to a quick advance and now the army and police have connected with the Counter Terrorism Forces in the center," said Iraq analyst and author of ‘Musings on Iraq‘ blog Joel Wing to The Independent.
"Together they are now pushing on the last section of Mosul. The city will probably be freed by the end of the month or early June at the latest."
Federal police chief Shakar Jadwat also confirmed that elite rapid response force units managed to make incursions in al-Ektesadiyn neighborhood on Thursday - just a few hundred meters away from the Grand Mosque in which Daesh leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced the creation of the claimed caliphate.
Mosul became the jewel in the militants' crown after its forces blazed through Iraq from Syria in the summer of 2014, at one point laying claim to more than one third of the country.
Nearly three years after the city's 1.5 million citizens were first subject to Daesh's brutal rule, and eight months after Operation Inherent Resolve to drive the militants out was launched, the end of the terrorists' control appears to be in sight.
A map released by the Iraqi military on Thursday showed that the security forces are now in control of 90 per cent of the city.
Source: The Independent, Edited by website team