A high-ranking Iraqi military commander has expressed hope that government forces, backed by volunteer fighters from Popular Mobilization Units, will drive the Daesh Takfiri terrorists out of their last urban stronghold in the country in less than a month despite the stiff resistance that the extremists are putting up in the densely-populated Old City district of western Mosul.
The official al-Sabaah (The Morning) daily newspaper, quoting Army Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Othman al-Ghanimi, reported on Sunday that the battle should be completed “in a maximum of three weeks.”
The report came on the same day that the commander of Nineveh Liberation Operation, Lieutenant General Abdul Amir Yarallah, said fighters from Popular Mobilization Units, commonly known by their Arabic name, Hashd al-Sha’abi, had reclaimed control of the villages of Tomit, Bont al- Mosheirfeh and Umm al-Shatan west of Tel Abtah, and raised the national Iraqi flags over several buildings in the liberated areas.
Yarallah added that pro-government Iraqi forces had inflicted heavy losses on Daesh ranks and their military hardware during the operations.
Separately, two Iraqi soldiers were killed and eight others injured when Daesh militants launched an ambush attack against an army outpost in the troubled western province of Anbar.
Captain Ahmed al-Dulaimi of the provincial police said the attack targeted government forces west of the town of Ar-Rutbah, situated about 428 kilometers (265 miles) west of the capital, Baghdad, on Sunday.
He said five of the assailants were shot dead, adding that fierce exchanges of gunfire broke out between both sides after the ambush.
The United Nations says nearly half a million civilians have fled fighting since the offensive to retake Mosul from the Daesh terrorists started on October 17, 2016.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on April 17 that 493,000 people had been displaced from the city, located some 400 kilometers north of the capital Baghdad.
As many as 500,000 civilians are still trapped in Daesh-controlled neighborhoods of western Mosul.
Iraqi army soldiers and Hashd al-Sha’abi fighters have made sweeping gains against the Takfiri elements since launching the operation to retake Mosul.
The Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19.