Iraq says forces are 'tens of metres' from retaking Mosul

Commanders say their units continue to advance - and not much is left before forces reach the river

Iraqi Federal police celebrate in the Old City of Mosul and ISIL looked close to defeat
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BAGHDAD // Iraqi commanders say their forces are "tens of metres" away from defeating ISIL in Mosul, a day after a major counterattack by the militants.

The Joint Operations Command said Saturday "our units are still continuing to advance... Not much is left before our forces reach the river."

Iraqi officials have made similar pronouncements over the past week as security forces have bottled the militants up in a sliver of the Old City along the Tigris River. But the troops' progress has slowed in recent days.

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

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