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Mosul victory imminent as Islamic State lines collapse

Dozens of soldiers celebrated on the banks of Tigris river without waiting for a formal declaration

Stephen Kalin & Maher Chmaytelli | Reuters  |  Mosul/Erbil (Iraq) 

Representative image for Islamic State members. File Photo: Reuters
Representative image for Islamic State members. File Photo: Reuters

Iraqi security forces expect to take full control of within hours as Islamic State’s (IS) defensive lines crumble in its former de facto capital in Iraq, military commanders said on Saturday.

Dozens of soldiers celebrated amid the rubble on the banks of the Tigris river without waiting for a formal victory declaration, some dancing to music blaring out from a truck and firing machineguns into the air, a Reuters correspondent said.

The mood was less festive, however, among some of the nearly one million residents displaced by months of combat, many of whom are living in camps outside the city with little respite from the blazing summer heat.

“If there no rebuilding and people don’t return to their homes and regain their belongings, what the meaning of liberation?” Mohammed Haji Ahmed, 43, a clothing trader, told Reuters in the Hassan Sham camp to the east of

“We are seeing now the last metres (yards) and then final victory will be announced,” a television presenter said, citing the channel’s correspondents embedded with security forces fighting in IS’s redoubt in the Old City of Mosul, by the Tigris. “It’s a matter of hours,” she said.

A US-led coalition providing air and ground support to the eight-month campaign to wrest back Mosul, by far the largest city seized by in 2014. Almost exactly three years ago, the ultra-hardline group’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared from a “caliphate” over adjoining parts of Iraq and Syria.

A military spokesman cited by the TV said the insurgents’ defence lines were collapsing. Iraqi commanders say the militants were fighting for every metre with snipers, grenades and suicide bombers, forcing security forces to fight house-to-house in the densely populated maze of narrow alleyways.

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

“The battle has reached the phase of chasing the insurgents in remaining blocks,” the Iraqi military media office said in a statement. “Some members of Daesh have surrendered,” it added.