Dozens of "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS) elements holed up in Mosul's Old City have laid down their arms and surrendered to the Iraqi forces, the Ministry of Defence said Thursday (June 29th).
Meanwhile, Iraqi forces on Friday continued their push into the neighbourhood -- a small section of which is still under ISIS control.
"In the next few days, we will announce the final victory over ISIS," senior Counter-Terrorism Service commander Staff Lt. Gen. Abdulghani al-Assadi told AFP in Mosul.
Al-Assadi estimated there are between 200 and 300 ISIS fighters left in the city, most of them foreign elements.
"Many ISIS gunmen have surrendered to the security forces since the kickoff of the Old City liberation operation on June 18th," ministry of defence media director Brig. Gen. Tahseen al-Khafaji told Diyaruna.
"Dozens of gunmen who were fighting in the old neighbourhoods have laid down their weapons and surrendered," he added. "Four elements surrendered on the first day of attack, and the number is increasing every day."
"The gunmen who have surrendered include a father of 12 sons, all of whom are fighting for ISIS, and a 19-year-old youth who was handed over to the security forces by his mother, who said he wanted to surrender but feared for his fate."
"The surrenders are the first of their type, as we did not expect that those gunmen would surrender that easily," al-Khafaji said.
The international coalition also said the end of the battle for Mosul was near, AFP reported.
"I can not put a timeline on that for them, but I see it closer to days than a week or weeks," coalition spokesman Col. Ryan Dillon said.
He praised the Iraqi forces' "grit and determination" and said coalition support would help bring "an imminent liberation".
Psychological tactics pay off
Media and psychological tactics to flush out ISIS fighters and encourage them to surrender, conducted in tandem with the field military operations, have been a key factor in encouraging them to surrender, al-Khafaji said.
"When we stormed the Old City, we tried something new in our military strategy as part of the psychological war, which is to use loudspeakers along the contact line with the enemy," he said.
Iraqi forces also dropped nearly 500,000 leaflets over the city.
These messages called on ISIS fighters and those who had been deceived by the group to surrender, pledged not to hurt them and promised them fair treatment under the law.
"The surrendered elements are receiving good treatment," al-Khafaji said. "We confirmed to them that they will receive a fair trial as per the law. Meanwhile, they told us they regretted belonging to ISIS, and that they were deceived and came back to their senses."
"They have provided important information to the security forces about ISIS sleeper cells and hideouts that will help thwart many of the attacks that target civilians," he added.