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Mosul: ISIS Collapse Looms on the Horizon as Iraqi Forces Advance | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Iraqi security forces member are pictured during a battle with ISIS’s militants West Mosul, Iraq February 25, 2017. .REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

Mosul – Iraqi forces stated that units stand less than a kilometer away from Mosul’s directorate premise in the western side of the governorate on Saturday. The military push against the terrorist’s group ISIS’ stronghold will spell the end of the terror group in Iraq.

Elite forces from the interior ministry’s Rapid Response units that retook Mosul airport pressed north towards the city center but their advance was expected to slow as they moved deeper.

“Right now we’re heading towards the Mosul governorate building, we’re now about one kilometer (less than a mile) from the fourth bridge,” the city’s southernmost bridge across the Tigris River, Lieutenant Colonel Abdulamir al-Mohammadawi told AFP on the front line.

“We’re heading towards the center and also the Turkish consulate, which we’re about 500 meters from,” he said, as attack helicopters fired rockets at targets in the Jawsaq neighborhood.

As they pushed deeper from the outer edges of the city into more densely populated areas, resistance appeared to stiffen.

“ISIS is using houses full of residents as human shields,” Mohammadawi said, as tanks and troops rained fire on suspected ISIS snipers.

Moments later, Rapid Response fighters helped two wounded comrades back to the rear for treatment. They moaned in pain and one wore a tourniquet above his knee after being shot in the leg by a sniper.

Iraqi forces launched a fresh push from the south on February 19, nearly a month after the eastern side of Mosul was declared “fully liberated”.

The west bank of Mosul is where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his only public appearance as ISIS leader in July 2014 and proclaimed a “caliphate” encompassing Iraq and Syria.

A few hundred civilians managed to flee areas on the outer edges of west Mosul over the past two days, but aid groups estimate at least three quarters of a million people remained trapped on the west bank.

Several thousand militants, including many who traveled from Western countries to join up, are believed to be holed up in the city with practically nowhere to go, which could lead to a fierce standoff amid a population of 750,000.