Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi shakes hands with army officers in Mosul, Iraq, on July 9, 2017. Mosul came under IS control in June 2014. In October 2016, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the start of the battle to liberate Mosul. Eastern Mosul was liberated late January this year. On June 18, Iraqi army launched the offensive to liberate the Old City, the last district still held by IS militants in western Mosul. [Photo/Xinhua/Office of Iraqi Prime Minister]
MOSUL - Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi on Sunday said the victory in the battles against the Islamic State (IS) militants in Mosul is guaranteed and it is a matter of time to defeat the extremist militants and "declare great victory" in the city.
A statement by Abadi's office said "the victory is guaranteed" and the remnants of IS group are "besieged in the last inches," and it is a matter of time to declare to our people the great victory.
"We have come today (in Mosul) to be in the battleground and supervise the battle," said Abadi, adding that it is only a pocket or two left under control of IS remnants, who have "no escape except death or surrender themselves, and hence the battle is settled and the great victory is in the hand," Abadi said.
During the past 24 hours, the security forces killed a large number of IS militants and the troops are fighting to free the civilians trapped as human shields in some 50 to 100 houses in the IS-held pockets, according to the statement.
In the afternoon, Abadi, who is also the Commander-in-Chief of Iraqi forces, paid a visit to Mosul and held meetings with the military commanders before he made a tour in the eastern side of Mosul, where hundreds of people welcomed his presence.
Abadi also hailed the high spirit of Iraqi forces and praised the cooperation of the people of Mosul and their celebration in the victory on the extremist militants, according to the statement.
During the visit, the Iraqiya channel and the official websites of Abadi's office said that Abadi was expected to declare victory in Mosul, despite the heavy clashes in the remaining pockets in the Old City of Mosul's western side.
The official Iraqiya channel aired live broadcast showing the people in many Iraqi cities, including the Iraqi capital Baghdad, started celebrations as hundreds of people gathered in main streets and squares raising the Iraqi flags and dancing.
Earlier in the day, the commandos of the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) liberated al-Maidan area in the heavily-populated Old City center and reached the bank of the Tigris River.
The CTS and the army's 9th Armored Division are still fighting heavy house-to-house clashes against IS militants into the narrow alleys in the last two pockets in the neighborhoods of al-Qlei'at and al-Shahwan in the Old City.
The fighting in the Old City is becoming heavier as Iraqi forces push the extremist IS militants into the strip of land along the bank of the Tigris River.
The desperate militants have been increasingly resorting to suicide attacks and showing stiff resistance that slowed the troops' progress in recent days.
Mosul, 400 km north of Iraq's capital Baghdad, came under IS control since June 2014, when government forces abandoned their weapons and fled, enabling IS militants to take control of parts of Iraq's northern and western regions.