Baghdad, May 30 (IANS) Iraqi forces are in the last stages of defeating the Islamic State (IS) militant group in the remaining neighbourhoods of the western side of Mosul, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has said.
Abadi made the statement on Monday during a visit to the battleground in western Mosul, where he met commanders of the Iraqi security forces and leaders of the paramilitary Hashd Shaabi units, Xinhua news agency reported.
“The enemy (IS) is in a state of collapse and cannot achieve any of its goals in Mosul, which once they considered their capital,” Abadi said.
According to the Prime Minister, the security forces have freed about 95 per cent of Mosul.
“Life is returning to normal on the left bank of Mosul (eastern side of Mosul) and on the right bank (western side) most of it has been freed. We will soon declare full liberation of the city,” he said.
Abadi also hailed the advance of the Hashd Shaabi units to the border with Syria and their liberation of many towns and villages, including villages of Yazidi minority who were brutally attacked by the IS.
“These days, the Hashd Shaabi freed large areas, including areas of Iraqi Yazidis seized by the criminal Daesh (IS), who killed the citizens and kidnapped their women,” Abadi said.
“It is a matter of time and we will return those Yazidi families to their places,” he promised.
Abadi, who is also the commander-in-chief of Iraqi forces, arrived in Mosul in the afternoon and held meetings with top commanders of the Iraqi army.
He also visited the Hashd Shaabi’s Operations Command headquarters in west of Mosul and met Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis, deputy commander of Hashd Shaabi units.
According to a Hashd Shaabi units statement, they pushed to the border line on Monday morning from the newly-freed town of al-Qahtaniyah, some 18 km east of the Syrian border, making their first arrival to the border line in south of Sinjar mountain.
The latest advance is part of a major offensive designed to secure the border areas with neighbouring Syria and cut off IS supply routes between Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa, the capital of the IS self-declared caliphate.
Maan al-Saadi, commander of CTS special operations, said the forces have taken control of 70 per cent of al-Saha neighbourhood in north of the IS-held old city centre and killed around 70 IS militants, most of them foreigners and non-Iraqi Arabs, in the battles during the past two days.
The operations near the Syrian border came as Iraqi forces, backed by the anti-IS international coalition, were conducting a major offensive to dislodge IS militants from their major stronghold in western Mosul.
Mosul, 400 km north of Baghdad, has been under IS control since June 2014, when government forces abandoned their weapons and fled, enabling militants to control parts of Iraq’s northern and western regions.