Mosul – Islamic State fighters pledged Saturday to fight to death as Iraqi troops besiege them in the last few meters they are holding in western Mosul near the Tigris River.
Islamic State’s Amaq news agency said in a statement that fighters would fight till “martyrdom” in Midan, a district near the western bank of Tigris River which bisects Mosul.
The declaration came as commanders from the Iraqi and U.S.-led coalition commanders said less than 250 meters remained under the group’s control in western Mosul. Military media reported earlier on Saturday that police and army troops converged at the river’s bank.
The Iraqi Joint Operations Command spokesperson, Brig. Gen. Yahia Rasoul, was quoted saying forces took control over the Old City, the birthplace of Islamic State’s self-styled “caliphate” in Iraqi and Syria which was declared in 2014.
Iraqi media reports said Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi was expected to make an official statement later on Saturday declaring the end of Mosul operations and victory over IS, ending the group’s three-year occupation of Iraq’s second largest city.
Iraqi government forces, backed by a U.S.-led coalition, have been fighting IS out of Mosul since mid October. Late June, troops took over the Old City’s Nuri al-Kabir Mosque where IS first declared the establishment of its rule in 2014 in a sermon delivered by the supreme leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.