MOSUL, Iraq (AP) — The Latest on developments in the fight for Mosul in Iraq (all times local):
Iraq’s state TV says the country’s prime minister has arrived in Mosul to declare victory over the Islamic State group in the more than eight-month old operation to drive the militants from the city.
State TV quotes Haider al-Abadi as saying he “congratulates the fighters and the people on the big victory” in the key city.
Dressed in a black uniform of a type worn by Iraqi special forces, al-Abadi was shown on Sunday as descending from a military plane and was greeted by senior security forces commanders.
Backed by U.S.-led coalition, Iraq launched the operation to retake Mosul in October. Iraqi state TV says government forces have drove the militants from all areas and are “chasing” them militants in some areas in the city.
The militants captured Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, in a matter of days in the summer of 2014.
Iraqi troops are celebrating the clearing of Islamic State militants from some of their last strongholds in Mosul, but heavy fighting is still underway.
Lt. Gen. Jassim Nizal of the army’s 9th Division said Sunday his forces have achieved “victory” in the sector allotted to them, after a similar announcement by the militarized Federal Police. Iraqi special forces are still fighting a few hundred meters (yards) away.
Nizal’s soldiers danced to patriotic music atop tanks even as airstrikes sent plumes of smoke into the air nearby.
Iraq launched the operation to retake Mosul in October. IS now controls less than a square kilometer (mile) of territory in Mosul’s Old City, but is using human shields, suicide bombers and snipers in a fight to the death.