US-backed Iraq says battle against ISIS for Mosul nearly won

BAGHDAD, May 16 (Reuters) - Iraqi forces have dislodged Islamic State from all but 12 square km of Mosul, a military spokesman said on Tuesday, 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.

RELATED: Walking through the abandoned streets of Mosul

19 PHOTOS
Walking through the abandoned streets of Mosul
See Gallery
Walking through the abandoned streets of Mosul
Food containers lie on a windowsill of a shop damaged during fighting in western Mosul, Iraq, April 10, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Wires hang in front of a destroyed shop in western Mosul, Iraq, April 6, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A rusted car is seen from inside an abandoned house in western Mosul, Iraq, April 12, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Mechanical parts hang on a wall in an abandoned workshop in western Mosul, Iraq, April 6, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Buildings damaged during fighting are seen on an empty street in western Mosul, Iraq, April 11, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Debris and garbage lie on the ground in front of an entrance of damaged houses in western Mosul, Iraq, April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A destroyed room inside an abandoned building is seen in western Mosul, Iraq, April 6, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Decorations hang on a wall at an abandoned shop in western Mosul, Iraq, April 6, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares 
Mannequins lie on shelves in an abandoned shop in western Mosul, Iraq, April 6, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares 
Interior of an empty museum is seen in western Mosul, Iraq, April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Empty cupboards are seen inside an abandoned house in western Mosul, Iraq, April 12, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Stools stand on a table at an empty restaurant in western Mosul, Iraq, April 14, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares 
A flag of Iraq is seen outside a house on a street controlled by Iraqi Federal Police in western Mosul, Iraq, April 12, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A sink is seen in an abandoned house in western Mosul, Iraq, April 12, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Rugs, a chair and an empty box of ammunition are seen inside a room at a railway station in western Mosul, Iraq, April 10, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
A broken window is seen inside an abandoned house in western Mosul, Iraq, April 12, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares
Rolls of fabric lie on a shelf at an abandoned store in western Mosul, Iraq, April 10, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares 
A clock hangs on a wall at an abandoned restaurant in western Mosul, Iraq, April 6, 2017. REUTERS/Andres Martinez Casares 
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

"The enemy is on the brink of total defeat in Mosul," U.S. Air Force Colonel John Dorrian told a news conference in Baghdad.

With the help of advisers and air strikes by the coalition, Iraqi forces have made rapid gains since opening a new front in the northwest of Mosul earlier this month, closing in on the Old City.

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."

SEE ALSO: Officials: Measles outbreak caused by anti-vaccination campaign

Outnumbered, the militants have snipers embedded among the hundreds of thousands of civilians trapped in west Mosul. Many people have been killed by militants or heavy bombardments.

The leaflet dropped over Mosul also ordered civilians to immediately stop using any vehicle to avoid being mistaken for militants who have fought back against Iraqi forces with suicide car bombs and motorcycle bombs.

"Our airforce and Iraqi military planes will strike any vehicle that moves on the streets of these districts from the evening of May 15 until their liberation," read a copy of the leaflet seen by Reuters. "The decisive hour has approached."

RELATED: Inside Fallujah after years of ISIS occupation

19 PHOTOS
Inside Fallujah after years of ISIS occupation
See Gallery
Inside Fallujah after years of ISIS occupation
A view is seen of streets in Falluja after government forces recaptured the city from Islamic State militants, Iraq, June 27, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
A view of streets in Falluja, Iraq, June 26, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
Destroyed buildings from clashes are seen on the outskirt of Falluja, Iraq, June 20, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
Houses are pictured in Falluja, Iraq, June 26, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
Damaged mosque is seen in Falluja, Iraq, after government forces recaptured the city from Islamic State militants, June 30, 2016. REUTERS/Ahmed Saad
A view of a street in Falluja, Iraq, after government forces recaptured the city from Islamic State militants, June 30, 2016. REUTERS/Ahmed Saad
Members of Iraqi government forces celebrate on a street in Falluja after government forces recaptured the city from Islamic State militants, Iraq, June 27, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
A member of Iraqi counterterrorism forces walks with his weapon in Falluja, Iraq, June 26, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A member of the Iraqi counterterrorism forces stands by an Islamic State militants weapons factory in Falluja, Iraq, June 23, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A member of the Iraqi security forces looks at explosives abandoned by Islamic State militants at a school in Falluja, Iraq, June 25, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
Rocket-propelled grenades left behind by Islamic State militants are seen at a school, following clashes in Falluja, Iraq, June 25, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
A book belonging to Islamic State militants is seen in Falluja after government forces recaptured the city from Islamic State militants, Iraq, June 27, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
Burnt out prison cells belonging to Islamic State militants are seen in Falluja after government forces recaptured the city from Islamic State militants, Iraq, June 27, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A burnt out prison cell belonging to Islamic State militants is seen in Falluja after government forces recaptured the city from Islamic State militants, Iraq, June 27, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
Members of the Shi'ite Badr Organisation inspect a factory abandoned by Islamic State militants, in Falluja, Iraq, June 25, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
A member of the Iraqi security forces tears up a signboard of the Islamic State militants in Falluja, Iraq, after government forces recaptured the city from Islamic State militants, June 30, 2016. REUTERS/Ahmed Saad TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Iraqi counterterrorism forces pose for a picture in Falluja, Iraq, June 26, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A fighter from the Iraqi Shi'ite Badr Organization holds his rifle in an underground tunnel built by Islamic State fighters on the outskirts of Falluja, Iraq, May 28, 2016. REUTERS/Thaier Al-Sudani
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.