Iraqi forces are “tens of metres” from defeating Islamic State in Mosul, say commanders.

The announcement comes a day after a major counterattack by IS.

The militants hold less than one square mile of territory but are using civilians as human shields, making it nearly impossible for US-led warplanes to flush them out.

Loading article content

Iraqi civilians wait to be led out of Mosul (Felipe Dana/AP)Iraqi civilians wait to be led out of Mosul (Felipe Dana/AP)

The Joint Operations Command said: “Our units are still continuing to advance… Not much is left before our forces reach the river.”

Iraqi officials made similar pronouncements over the past week as security forces bottled the militants up in a sliver of the Old City along the River Tigris.

But the troops’ progress has slowed in recent days.

The operation to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city, began in October.