July 4, 2017 7:43 am
Updated: July 4, 2017 7:51 am

ISIS in ‘fight to the death’ in Mosul, Iraqi commander says

Iraqi forces launch final assault on Mosul Old City.

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MOSUL, Iraq – An Iraqi commander says Islamic State militants are in a “fight to the death” as Iraqi forces close in on their last foothold in the northern city of Mosul.

Gen. Abdel Ghani al-Asadi, the head of Iraq’s special forces, said Tuesday that Iraqi forces are just 250 metres from the Tigris River after retaking the city’s main hospital compound the day before.

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READ MORE: Islamic state fighters struggle to hold Mosul streets as Iraqi army units press on

He says the militants are increasingly resorting to suicide bombings, and he expects the fighting to get even heavier as they are pushed closer to the river.

Iraqi forces launched the operation to retake Mosul, the country’s second-largest city, in October.

On June 29, Iraqi government troops captured the ruined mosque at the heart of ISIS’ de facto capital Mosul, and the prime minister declared the group’s self-styled caliphate at an end.

READ MORE: Iraq declares end of caliphate after capture of Mosul mosque

The seizure of the nearly 850-year-old Grand al-Nuri Mosque — from where Islamic State proclaimed the caliphate nearly three years ago to the day — is a huge symbolic victory.

© 2017 The Canadian Press

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