MOSUL, Iraq (Kurdistan24) – Iraqi forces are hoping to completely retake Mosul from the Islamic State (IS) before the holy month of Ramadan, according to Othman al-Ghanimi, chief of staff to the Iraqi Army.
With only 9 percent of Mosul city left to retake, Iraqi forces are aiming to finish operations before Ramadan begins on May 27.
Since the battle to liberate Mosul began in October 2016, the Joint Special Operations Command estimates that 16,000 IS militants have been killed.
In a joint statement with US-led coalition spokesperson Air Force Col. John L. Dorrian, Iraqi Brigadier General Yahya Rasool claimed only 12 square-kilometers of Mosul remain under IS control.
Additionally, Rasool described the militant group as being on the “brink of total defeat.”
“If we advance this quickly we can finish it in days,” First Lieutenant Nawfal al-Dhari told Reuters at a temporary base in the recently liberated western Islah al-Ziraie district.
The Mosul operations leadership also released a military warning, alerting residents of occupied areas in the Old City the conflict will likely intensify in the upcoming days.
In a statement on Monday, Lieutenant General Abdul Amir Yarallah said leaflets were dropped over the Old City warning residents to refrain from using any form of vehicle, including motorcycles and bicycles.
“The Iraqi Air Force and Army will target any vehicle with wheels moving in the streets of IS-controlled neighborhoods starting May 15 until they are liberated,” he said.
Yarallah reassured residents that necessary transportation would be provided to families who are evacuating.
Backed by US-led coalition airstrikes and advisers, Iraqi forces have made rapid gains since opening a new front in the northwest of Mosul earlier this month, closing in on the Old City.
However, hundreds of thousands of civilians are trapped in west Mosul and remain vulnerable to the group’s attacks and tactics, and heavy bombardments from both sides.
Editing by Karzan Sulaivany