Iraqi government forces attacked ISIL’s remaining redoubt in Mosul’s Old City on Friday, a day after formally declaring the end of the insurgents’ self-declared caliphate and the capture of the historic mosque which symbolized their power.
Dozens of civilians fled in the direction of the Iraqi forces, mostly women and children, some wounded by ISIL fire, thirsty and tired.
The battles ahead will be difficult as most of the militants are foreigners expected to fight until the death. They are dug in among civilians, using them as human shields, Counter Terrorism Service (CTS) commanders in the city told Reuters.
The interspersal of civilians and militants presents complications on the urban battlefield. The U.N. Human Rights Office Friday also called on the Iraqi government to take action to halt the “imminent” forced evictions of Mosul families for alleged links to ISIL.
Hundreds of families have received threatening letters laying down a deadline for leaving, mainly under tribal agreements, which amount to “acts of vengeance,” U.N. human rights spokesmman Rupert Colville said.
“We urge the Iraqi Government to take action to halt such imminent evictions or any type of collective punishment, and to reinforce the formal justice system to bring perpetrators to justice,” he told a Geneva news briefing.
Iraq would declare victory in the battle for Mosul in the “next few days,” Agence France Press quoted a senior commander as saying Friday.