Iraqis prepare to celebrate victory over IS in Mosul

Iraqis prepared on Sunday to celebrate an expected victory over IS in Mosul, just blocks away from battles raging in the last few districts where the militants are dug in.
Troops tied white banners and Iraqi flags to lamp posts and damaged buildings including the Hadba minaret, which the militants blew up in June along with the adjoining Grand al Nuri Mosque, as air strikes and mortars rained down nearby.
Authorities are planning a week of nationwide celebrations, according to a government statement, and Prime Minister Haider al Abadi is expected to visit Mosul to formally declare victory.
Mosul’s fall would mark the effective end of the Iraqi half of the caliphate which IS declared three years ago in parts of Iraq and Syria.
The group still controls territory west and south of Mosul, where tens of thousands of civilians live.
Soldiers from the elite Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) retook the Makawi district of Mosul’s Old City on Sunday, a military statement said, a few blocks from the western banks of the Tigris.
Reaching the river will give Iraqi forces control over the entire city and is expected by the end of this week. A US-led international coalition is providing air and ground support to the offensive, which Iraq’s army and militarised police are also fighting in a multi-pronged attack.
Federal police chief Lieutenant General Raed Shakir Jawdat said his forces had completed their mission in southern parts of the Old City on Saturday and those areas still needed to be cleared of explosives and corpses from two weeks of fighting.
“Unfortunately until now there are families besieged and there are many discarded enemy corpses, and unfortunately many civilians have been martyred, so we must remove them,” he said in western Mosul.