Islamic State militants pledge to 'fight to the death' in Mosul

Islamic State militants pledge to 'fight to the death' in Mosul

Citing correspondents embedded with state forces, the channel claimed it is now "a matter of hours" before the city is returned to government control.

"The end of the battle is near, I would say two days, but it could go on", said CTS commander Abdel Ghani al-Assadi.

More than three quarters of the remaining jihadists in Mosul are foreigners, according to Iraqi commanders who have reported a spike in suicide attacks as anti-IS forces close in on the Old City. The United Nations estimates that up to 20,000 civilians are trapped in the Old City neighborhood and warns they are in "extreme danger".

"The enemy has strung IEDs (improvised explosive devices) all over the place, in every place, in every closet, in one case under a crib", said Sofge.

Nearly exactly three years ago, the ultra-hardline group's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared from Mosul a "caliphate" over adjoining parts of Iraq and Syria. "You have to go back to World War II to find anything that's even close".

Late Tuesday, Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi congratulated the armed forces on a "big victory" in Mosul, despite ongoing clashes.

ISIS blew up the historic site and its minaret on June 21.

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An AFP team saw more than 60 women and children in tears having lost loved ones in the crossfire, coalition bombing, jihadist shelling and sniper fire.

David Eubank, an American aid worker in Mosul who founded the humanitarian group Free Burma Rangers, said he and his team witnessed ISIS militants using civilians as human shields in this manner on several occasions.

Iraqi Federal Police have announced they achieved their mission to drive ISIS out from the right bank of Mosul after they liberated Bab al-Tub, Suq al-Sagha and Najafi Street on Saturday.

The intent was political: to sew division among the local population and turn civilians against the American-backed Iraqi security forces.

Dozens of ISIL militants were killed on Saturday and others tried to escape by swimming across the Tigris, state television said.

The operation to retake Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, began in October.

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