Iraqi forces liberate old Mosul

A Peshmerga fighter is trained by a coalition trainer. File

A Peshmerga fighter is trained by a coalition trainer. File

Iraqi forces have faced violent resistance in Mosul in recent days, particularly as militants ramp up suicide bombings in a desperate attempt to hold off defeat.

ISIS fighters have pledged to fight to the death.

"We are seeing now the last meters (yards) and then final victory will be announced", a television presenter said, citing the channel's correspondents embedded with security forces battling in the IS fortification in the Old City of Mosul, by the Tigris river.

During those seven months, he said he witnessed a "measurable escalation" in ISIS's use of human shields as Iraqi troops pushed further into the city.

The militants are locked in the district of Maydan on the banks of the River Tigris, where Islamic State's Amaq news agency said there had been "fierce fighting" and that IS fighters are "holding onto their fortified positions". Around 20,000 civilians have been trapped in the fierce fighting, including air strikes by the U.S. led coalition. "Look how much the government is contributing, as if they don't care".

Daesh fighters remaining in Mosul's Old City - a densely populated area of narrow streets and closely spaced buildings that Iraqi forces have struggled to retake - have been estimated to number in the hundreds.

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Beijing's claims in the region have been contested by Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam. The operation comes two months after North Korea launched a ballistic missile toward Japan.

The final push is being hindered because up to 20,000 civilians are still trapped in the area.

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is expected to visit the Iraqi city to formally declare victory, with plans for a week of nationwide celebrations.

With the liberation of Old Mosul, the Iraqi government will likely declare that it has a full control over the city.

"They never surrender", said General Abdel Ghani al-Assadi, a commander in Iraq's elite Counter-Terrorism Service.

The jihadists wanted to go back, but security forces "fired on them and killed them", he said, without specifying how many died.

Dozens of IS insurgents were killed on Saturday and others tried to escape by swimming across Tigris, state TV said.

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