An Iraqi soldier in west Mosul on Thursday. Photo: Rudaw video
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraqi forces have taken the Saha neighbourhood of west Mosul, one of the last four districts still held by ISIS, the military announced in a statement on Friday.
The fight for Old Mosul, home to al-Nuri mosque where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared his caliphate nearly three years ago, is expected to be the bloodiest in a conflict that has already been marked by horrific civilian casualties.
Visiting the frontlines earlier this week, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi, who is also commander-in-chief of the armed forces, predicted that victory over ISIS in the northern Iraqi city will come “very soon.”
ISIS has been forced into a small area of territory in the old centre of western Mosul, “less than 10 square kilometres,” coalition spokesperson Army Col. Ryan Dillon told reporters on Thursday.
Iraq has instructed civilians still remaining in the area to evacuate, Dillon said. “Many civilians, though, cannot break away from ISIS safely.”
The coalition estimates that fewer than 1,000 militants remain in western Mosul.