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Iraqi forces 'metres away' from retaking Mosul

شعار Al Jazeera Al Jazeera 09/07/2017

Iraqi forces say they are just a few hundred metres away from the Tigris River as they inch closer to fully recapturing Mosul from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as ISIS). 

Iraq's Joint Operations Command said late on Saturday "our units are still continuing to advance... Not much is left before our forces reach the river."

About 100 ISIL fighters are reported to be trapped in a sliver of the Old City along the Tigris on its western side. The armed group is said to control just two blocks. 

Iraqi commanders said their troops were now just "tens of metres" away from defeating ISIL. 

Officials have made similar pronouncements of victory over the past week, but progress appears to have slowed in recent days with ISIL fighters placing booby traps and bombs to block advancing troops. 

The fall of Mosul would be the biggest defeat yet for ISIL three years after it seized the city in a lightning offensive.

IN PICTURES: The final push - Retaking Mosul from ISIL

A US general also said on Saturday that victory in Mosul is "imminent". 

"I don't want to speculate if it's today or tomorrow but I think it's going to be very soon," Brigadier General Robert Sofge told the AFP news agency. He offered "congratulations in advance" to Iraqi troops.

On Saturday, jubilant police forces were seen flashing V-for-victory signs in Mosul and posing for selfies in front of each other holding up ISIL's black flag upside down. 

Distraught women and children were seen clutching what few belongings they could carry. 

Rebuilding Mosul

As the Iraq forces makes their final push, approximately half of the population of the city is still displaced, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) said.

Tens of thousands of people are likely to return to the city in the near future, placing pressure on the Iraqi government and the international community to begin rebuilding immediately. 

"Rebuilding will be the key to preventing further conflict in Iraq," said Heidi Diedrich, the NRC's country director.

"People from every ethnic, religious and socio-economic group in Iraq have suffered as a result of this conflict. It is the responsibility of the international community now to help them rebuild their country and repair the divisions that helped to create the conflict in the first place."

With air support by the US-led coalition, Iraqi forces launched the battle for Mosul in October, retaking the eastern part of the city in January and starting the operation for its western part the next month.

Since then hundreds of civilians have been killed and more than 850,000 people have been displaced, according to the Iraqi government.

ISIL has lost much of the territory it once held in Iraq over the last three years. Mosul is their last urban bastion in Iraq.

Due to the protracted conflict, over three million people are displaced across Iraq.

One third of Iraq's population, 11 million people, are in need of humanitarian assistance. Yet only 42 percent of the funding required to meet their needs has been provided this year.

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