Mosul: Iraqi security forces hope to liberate Mosul from Daesh by June 10 — which marks the third year of the Daesh rule in the country’s second-largest city — and end the group’s control, media reported on Tuesday.
The target gives the troops a little under a fortnight to clear the last remnants of Daesh from Iraq’s besieged city. Much of Mosul, including the airport and university, are already under the control of the security forces, a Daily Mail report said.
However, an unknown number of Daesh fighters were still hidden among an estimated 165,000 civilians in the old city. The winding streets, blind alleyways and densely packed buildings make military progress especially difficult, it said.
Major Qusay Al Kinani, commander of Iraq’s Special Operations Forces, told the Daily Telegraph: “Mosul fell to (Daesh) on June 10, 2014, so by June 10 this year, it must be liberated.”
The claim has been greeted with some scepticism, as several previous deadlines for liberation have passed.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al Abadi on Monday said the forces were in the last stages of defeating Daesh in the remaining neighbourhoods of Mosul.
“The enemy (Daesh) is in a state of collapse and cannot achieve any of its goals in Mosul, which once they considered their capital,” Al Abadi was quoted by Xinhua.
According to the Prime Minister, the security forces have freed about 95 per cent of Mosul.
“Life is returning to normal on the left bank of Mosul and on the right bank, most of it has been freed. We will soon declare full liberation of the city,” he said.
Al Abadi, who is also the commander-in-chief of Iraqi forces, last year promised to rid Iraq of Daesh by the end of 2016. Military commanders have also said that the liberation would be finished before Ramadan — which started on Saturday.
The latest advance is part of a major offensive designed to secure the border areas with neighbouring Syria and cut off the Daesh supply routes between Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa, the capital of the Daesh caliphate.
Maan Al Saadi, commander of special operations, said the forces have taken control of 70 per cent of Al Saha neighbourhood in north of the Daesh-held old city centre and killed around 70 militants, most of them foreigners and non-Iraqi Arabs, in the battles during the past two days.
The operations near the Syrian border came as Iraqi forces, backed by the anti-Daesh international coalition, were conducting a major offensive to dislodge the militants from their major stronghold in western Mosul.
Mosul, 400km north of Baghdad, has been under Daesh control since June 10, 2014, when government forces abandoned their weapons and fled, enabling militants to control parts of Iraq’s northern and western regions.