Iraq says they have almost reclaimed Mosul as battle draws closer to the Old City

A military spokesman said that Iraqi forces have dislodged Islamic State from all but 12 square km of Mosul; soon after planes dropped leaflets into the city telling civilians the battle was nearly won.

Seven months into the U.S.-backed campaign, the militants now control only a few districts in the western half of Mosul including the Old City, where Islamic State is expected to make its last stand. The Iraqi government is pushing to declare victory by the holy month of Ramadan, expected to begin on May 27, even if pockets of resistance remain in the Old City, according to military commanders.

A spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition backing Iraqi forces said the enemy was completely surrounded in the city and its fighters and resources were being destroyed. The enemy is on the brink of total defeat in Mosul,” U.S. Air Force Colonel John Dorrian told a news conference in Baghdad.

The Old City’s warren of densely packed houses and alleys is the most complex battleground and home to the al-Nuri mosque from which Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed a caliphate spanning Iraq and Syria in 2014. “We reassure everyone that … in a very short time, God willing, we will declare the liberation and clearing of west Mosul and raise the Iraqi flag over … the Old City,” said spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Rasool.”