Iraqi forces said Monday (March 13th) they had taken more territory from the "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" (ISIL) as they press an offensive that has seen them recapture a third of west Mosul and trap extremists inside, AFP reported.
A renewed push launched on March 5th has forced ISIL out of several neighbourhoods and key sites, including the main local government headquarters and the famed Mosul museum, tightening the noose around fighters there.
Iraq's Joint Operations Command announced additional gains on Monday, saying that forces from the elite Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) had recaptured west Mosul's al-Nafat neighbourhood.
Lt. Gen. Raed Shaker Jawdat said that forces from the Rapid Response Division and the federal police were working to search and clear territory on the edge of Mosul's Old City.
The forces are conducting "combing and search operations in the liberated areas of Bab al-Toub, searching for traps and mines and terrorists hiding among the people", Jawdat said in a statement.
Soldiers from the 9th Armoured Division scored a key victory on Saturday night when they cut the last road out of west Mosul, said Brett McGurk, the US envoy to the international coalition.
"Any of the fighters who are left in Mosul, they are going to die there, because they are trapped," McGurk told journalists in Baghdad.
In practice, ISIL fighters may still be able to sneak in and out of the city in small numbers, but the lack of access to roads makes larger-scale movement and resupply more difficult, if not impossible.
"We now believe that we are killing so many of their fighters that they are not able to replace them. That was not the case even a year ago," said McGurk, putting the toll for ISIL leaders at 180 dead.