Al Arabiya News Channel’s correspondent reported on Wednesday that al-Rifaei neighborhood in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul has been liberated.
The news came after ISIS militants launched an attack on Iraqi forces in al-Rafaei Wednesday morning using five suicide car bombs.
Iraqi forces have recaptured nearly 90 percent of west Mosul from ISIS after retaking the city’s eastern side earlier this year, a military spokesman said on Tuesday.
Neighborhoods around the historic Old City with its narrow streets and crowded buildings make it difficult for military vehicles and armored vehicles to progress, forcing Iraqi forces to fight street by street on foot.
In an interview with al-Hadath, Iraqi army spokesman Brigadier General Yahya al-Zubaidi said, “We will soon announce full control of Mosul.”
“We will adopt a new tactic in the coming days,” he added, as Iraqi forces make their final push against the militants after seven months of fighting
ISIS mining Mosul
A federal police commander and witnesses told Reuters on Wednesday that ISIS militants are planting bombs near front doors in Mosul to prevent civilians leaving.
Trapped in a shrinking area of the city, the militants are increasingly using the several hundred thousand civilians under their control as human shields to avoid being targeted or perhaps tarnish what Iraqi leaders describe as imminent victory.
Lieutenant-General Abdul Ghani al-Assadi told state TV earlier that his elite Counter Terrorism Services (CTS) were advancing steadily in the al-Rifaie and Najjar districts, aiming to reach the western bank of Tigris river and complete the Old City's encirclement.
“God willing the coming hours we will complete our assigned task,” he said on Wednesday.
The militants had deployed 30 suicide car bombs against his troops in Mosul over the past two days, he said.
In the Siha district, Assadi said, ISIS had chained civilians by the hands and used them as human shields to move around.
“We saw them moving with their weapons in the midst of the civilians but we did not strike them,” he said.
The civilians were unchained and released once the militants reached cover, Assadi said.