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Iraqi PM congratulates troops on 'big victory' in Mosul

Iraqi forces have been fighting to retake the Old City for weeks [AFP]

Date of publication: 4 July, 2017

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Haider al-Abadi congratulates Iraqi fighters on a "big victory" in Mosul during a Baghdad press conference on Tuesday, as fighting continues in the Old City neighbourhood.
Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi congratulated on Tuesday Iraqi fighters on "this big victory in Mosul", even as fighting against Islamic State [IS] group militants continued in Mosul's Old City neighbourhood.

Abadi spoke during a press conference in Baghdad, less than a week after he declared an end to IS group's self-style caliphate, after Iraqi forces made an incremental win by retaking the landmark al-Nuri Mosque in the Old City.

The 12th century mosque is hugely symbolic - it was from a pulpit of this mosque that IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed the IS caliphate in July 2014.

"Praise be to God, we managed to liberate (Mosul) and proved the others were wrong, the people of Mosul supported and stood with our security forces against terrorism," Abadi said.

The Iraqi prime minister said he had given orders to rebuild and stabilise the recaptured areas of the city.

Earlier on Tuesday, Lt. Gen. Abdel Ghani al-Asadi, of Iraq's special forces, said Iraqi forces were just 250 metres from the Tigris River in the western half of Mosul.

The river divides the city roughly into its western and eastern half, which was liberated from IS militants back in January.

IS militants who remain trapped in just a few hundred meters of territory in the Old City are now in a "fight to the death," Asadi said.

IS militants are increasingly resorting to suicide bombings, he said, adding that he expects the fighting to get even heavier as they are pushed closer to the river.

Iraqi forces have been fighting to retake the Old City for weeks, and launched a renewed assault on the area on June 18.

This week, they marked a significant victory when the Rapid Response Division retook Mosul's main hospital complex on the city's western side.

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