(Reuters) Iraqi security forces expect to take full control of Mosul in the coming hours as Islamic State’s defensive lines collapse in its former de facto capital in Iraq, state television reported on Saturday.
Air strikes and artillery salvoes pounded the jihadists’ last bastion in the city as black smoke billowed over it, a Reuters correspondent said.
Some Iraqi soldiers celebrated, dancing with rifles and machine guns and waving the national flag as they reached their assigned targets, without waiting for a formal victory announcement to be made, a Reuters TV crew said.
The mood was less festive, however, among some of the nearly one million Mosul residents displaced by months of fighting, many of whom are living in camps outside the city.
“If there is no rebuilding and people don’t return to their homes and regain their belongings, what is the meaning of liberation?” Mohammed Haji Ahmed, an elderly clothing trader, told Reuters in the Hassan Sham camp, east of Mosul.
“We are seeing now the last metres (yards) and then final victory will be announced,” a television presenter said, citing the channel’s correspondents embedded with security forces battling in ISIL’s redoubt in the Old City of Mosul, by the Tigris river. “It’s a matter of hours,” she said.