Mosul (IraqiNews.com) Islamic State militants are currently in control over only four square kilometers of western Mosul, a senior army special forces commander said late Monday as operations approach the group’s last bastion.
Abdul-Ghani al-Assadi, commander of the Iraqi army’s elite Counter-Terrorism Service, said in statements to Assabah al-Jadeed website that CTS are currently awaiting the arrival of Federal Police and Rapdi Response and army troops to join forces and consummate a siege on the IS-held Old City from the north.
“The major challenge forces are facing in Mosul is the existence of a large number of civilians in narrow areas with small, interconnected houses,” Assadi said.
Last week, a spokesperson of the U.S.-led coalition fighting IS said the group was controlling less than 10 square kilometers of territories in western Mosul.
Iraqi government troops regained control over eastern Mosul in January after three months of fighting. Operations for the western side of the city launched in mid February, and Iraqi generals say a few hundreds of IS fighters remain in the Old City as a last refuge.
The densely populated and narrowly structured Old City was the place where IS supreme leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the establishment of the group’s rule in Iraq in 2014.
Iraqi forces began late April to advance towards the enclave from the northwest, having besieged it from the south for weeks to no avail. Troops reportedly took over most of Zanjili district and proceeded towards al-Shefa, the last district adjacent to the Old City.
At least 200.000 civilians are believed to remain in IS captivity in the Old City.