|Arthur Dominic Villasanta |||Jun 15, 2017 10:45 PM EDT|
(Photo : Iraqi Army) Iraqi Army fighting vehicles advance towards Mosul.
The Iraqi Army has launched what it calls the "Final Battle for Mosul" and expects to destroy the few hundred desperate and distraught ISIS fighters defending their last stronghold by July
The army said its forces and that of its Kurdish Peshmerga and Muslim militia allies (mostly Shiiite) have completely surrounded the ISIS remnants in Mosul's Old City. The final battle caps eight months of savage house-to-house fighting that whittled down an ISIS force of more than 5,000 men defending the city to just a few hundred dazed and heavily outnumbered fighters.
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The Iraqi Army and its allies have lost over 4,000 men killed in the brutal fight for Mosul, the largest city in Iraq conquered by ISIS back in 2014, since the battle to re-take this city began in October 2016.
It said the ISIS remnants are hemmed in at the last district inside Mosul they still control.
Lt. Gen. Abdul Amir Yarallah, commander of the U.S. and Iraq's Joint Operation of Command in Ninevah distict, said Iraqi and allied forces had defeated ISIS in the neighboring district of Bab Sinjar, thereby cutting off every possible route of escape for ISIS.
The army and its allies are ow preparing to storm the last ISIS positions in Mosul.
Brig. Gen. Saleh Harz, commander of the 34th Brigade of the army's 9th Armored Division, said his forces had reached the right flank of the Old City after violent clashes with ISIS. He said Iraqi forces will enter the Old City's main gate within the next two days.
Iraq's elite Counter-Terrorism Service and Rapid Response Forces have been given the job of destroying the few hundred surviving ISIS fighters that remain in Mosul's Old City.
The collapse of ISIS' defense of Mosul began last month when Iraqi and allied forces achieved a major breakthrough against a number of ISIS-held neighborhoods. This ISIS collapse helped set the stage for the final battle for Mosul in the Old City itself.
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