Islamic State loses '90 percent' of west Mosul
Nearly 90 percent of west Mosul has been recaptured by Iraqi forces, a military spokesmen said on Tuesday, adding that the Islamic State group in the city are on the "brink of total defeat".
IS now controls just over ten percent of west Mosul, Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, spokesman for Iraq's Joint Operations Command told a news conference in Baghdad.
Colonel John Dorrian, the spokesman for the US-led international coalition against IS, said that the end was near for militants in the city.
"The enemy is completely surrounded," Dorrian told the news conference. "The enemy is on the brink of total defeat in Mosul."
Iraqi forces launched the massive operation to retake Mosul from IS nearly seven months ago, fighting their way to the militant-held city, retaking its eastern side and then attacking the west.
The drive to retake Mosul has been supported by a campaign of coalition airstrikes in and around the city.
"More than 300 vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices (car bombs) have been destroyed by coalition strikes in Mosul," Dorrian said.
"Our strikes have also destroyed more than 200 Daesh tunnels and more than 1,000 of their fighting positions," he said, using an Arabic acronym for IS.
The militant group now controls just a handful of neighbourhoods around the Old City, one of the country's heritage jewels.
But the area's narrow streets and closely spaced buildings make it difficult for federal forces to take on the militants, requiring them to fight on foot instead of from vehicles as they have previously done.
Half a million people are currently displaced as a result of the battle for Mosul, and some 250,000 civilians are estimated to still be trapped inside the city's west.
On Thursday, around 20,000 people fled west Mosul, the Norwegian Refugee Council said, in the biggest single-day displacement since the start of the operation.
The presence of a large civilian population, which either chose not to leave or was prevented from doing so by IS, complicates any final assault to seal victory in Mosul.
While coalition airstrikes have aided the advance of Iraqi forces, they have also reportedly caused hundreds of civilian casualties in the city.
Human shields have become a central feature of the vastly outnumbered militants' defences, and IS has stopped at nothing to deter people from escaping the city, including killing people who seek to flee.
Meanwhile, in eastern Mosul, life returned to a semblance of normality fairly quickly after Iraqi forces drove the militants back neighbourhood by neighbourhood until the area was fully recaptured earlier this year.
IS overran large areas north and west of Baghdad in 2014, but Iraqi forces backed by US-led airstrikes have since retaken much of the territory they lost to the militants.