Iraqis are getting ready for nationwide celebrations as government forces are just blocks away from battles raging in the last few districts, where members of the Daesh Takfiri militant group are dug in.
Army soldiers have tied banners and Iraqi flags to lamp posts and damaged buildings, including the base of 12th-century Hadba (Hunchback) minaret, which Daesh extremists blew up late on June 21 along with the Grand al-Nuri Mosque, where purported Daesh ringleader, Ibrahim al-Samarrai aka Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, announced the forming of the group’s so-called caliphate back in June 2014.
Government authorities are planning a week of jubilation across the country and Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi is expected to visit Mosul to formally declare victory.
The recapture of Mosul, located some 400 kilometers (250 miles) north of the capital Baghdad, would mark the effective end of Daesh in Iraq.
Earlier on Sunday, Commander of Nineveh Liberation Operation Lieutenant General Abdul Amir Yarallah stated that Iraqi Federal Police forces had liberated the Makawi area of the Old City, and hoisted the national Iraqi flag over a cluster of buildings there, Arabic-language al-Sumaria television network reported.
Commander of Federal Police Forces Lieutenant General Shaker Jawdat also said security forces had completely retaken Bilal al-Habashi Mosque in Bab al-Jadid neighborhood of Mosul’s Old City.
He noted that Federal Police forces were advancing from three sides, and were pursuing Daesh terrorists in the few remaining militant-held areas of the Old City.
Iraqi army soldiers and volunteer fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units, commonly known by their Arabic name, Hashd al-Sha’abi, have made sweeping gains against Daesh since launching the Mosul operation on October 17, 2016.
The Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19. Iraqi authorities expect the battle to end soon as the remaining Daesh elements are bottled up in a few districts of the Old City.
An estimated 862,000 people have been displaced from Mosul ever since the battle to retake the city began nine months ago. A total of 195,000 civilians have also returned, mainly to the liberated areas of eastern Mosul.