Endgame in Mosul: Iraqi forces storm the Islamic State-held Old City

Iraqi authorities will imminently announce a final victory in the battle to recapture Mosul from the Islamic State group, a US general said Saturday.

“An announcement is imminent,” Brigadier General Robert Sofge told AFP by phone from Baghdad.

“I don’t want to speculate if it’s today or tomorrow but I think it’s going to be very soon,” he added.

The jihadists that remain in Mosul are fighting to the death in a tiny area of just two blocks of the Old City next to the Tigris River, Sofge said, and those that remain are “desperate.”

Some are trying to blend in with fleeing civilians by shaving their beards and changing their clothes, others are playing dead then detonating explosive vests as Iraqi security forces come close. Women IS fighters have blown themselves up amid throngs of displaced civilians.

“They are doing as much damage as they can during these final moves,” Sofge said.

The battle for Mosul first began on October 16, 2016 and the fight has seemed to grow exponentially tougher as US-backed Iraqi security forces closed in on the center of the city.

Slowing the advance toward the final holdouts, IS have placed countless booby traps and bombs in practically every structure they occupied.

“The enemy has strung IEDs all over the place, in every place, in every closet, in one case under a crib,” Sofge said.

A final victory in Mosul would mark an epic milestone for the Iraqi security forces, who had crumbled in the face of an IS onslaught across Iraq in 2014. (READ MORE from AFP)

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Iraqi Federal Police celebrate

Iraqi Federal Police celebrate in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, July 8, 2017. (Photo: Ahmed Saad/Reuters)

An Iraqi soldier wears a gas mask

An Iraqi Special Operation Forces (ISOF) soldier wears a gas mask during an Islamic State gas attack in the Islamic State occupied Old City district where heavy fighting continues on July 8, 2017 in Mosul, Iraq. Iraqi forces continue to encounter stiff resistance from Islamic State with improvised explosive devices (IED’s), suicide bombers, heavy mortar fire, gas attacks and snipers hampering their advance. (Photo: Martyn Aim/Corbis via Getty Images)

Civilians are evacuated

A member of the Iraqi forces helps carry a girl, as women who fled the fighting with Islamic State (IS) group jihadists in the Old City of Mosul prepare to relocate from the city’s western industrial district on July 8, 2017. (Photo: Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images)

A sniper team member takes aim

An Iraqi Special Operation Forces (ISOF) sniper team in the Islamic State occupied Old City district where heavy fighting continues on July 8, 2017 in Mosul, Iraq. (Photo: Martyn Aim/Corbis via Getty Images)

An Iraqi man comforts a relative

An Iraqi man comforts a relative, who fled the fighting between government forces and Islamic State (IS) group jihadists in the Old City of Mosul, as they wait to be relocated in the city’s western industrial district, on July 8, 2017. (Photo: Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images)

An Iraqi fighter fires against Islamic State militants

A member of the Iraqi Federal Police opens fire against Islamic State militants in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, July 7, 2017. (Photo: Ahmed Saad/Reuters)

A tank fires at Islamic State militants

A tank of the Emergency Response Division fires at Islamic State militants in the old city of Mosul, Iraq July 5, 2017. (Photo: Alaa Al-Marjani/Reuters)

Civilians flee the Old City

Fleeing Iraqi civilians walk past the heavily damaged al-Nuri mosque as smoke rises in the background in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, July 4, 2017. (Photo: Felipe Dana/AP)

An Iraqi walks the streets

An Iraqi member of the Counter-Terrorism Services (CTS) wearing a superman T-shirt walks in the Old City of Mosul on July 3, 2017 during an ongoing offensive to retake the city from Islamic State (IS) group fighters. (Photo: Fadel Senna/AFP/Getty Images)

Smoke billows over the Old City

Smoke billows over the Old City after a strike as Iraqi forces continue their advance against Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq, Monday, July 3, 2017. (Photo: Felipe Dana/AP)

Men are detained

Two men are detained along with a suspected Islamic State fighter, center, to be questioned in a basement as Iraqi forces continue their advance against Islamic State militants in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, Monday, July 3, 2017. The two men were released. (Photo: Felipe Dana/AP)

After a victory parade dress rehersal

Members of Iraqi Federal Police wearing snipers camouflage ride a truck after a parade rehearsal to celebrate victory of military operations against the Islamic State militants in West Mosul, Iraq July 2, 2017. (Photo: Erik De Castro/Reuters)

A soldier looks at his pet dove

An Iraqi soldier looks at his pet dove as he drives an armoured fighting vehicle on the frontline in the Old City of West Mosul, Iraq June 27, 2017. (Photo: Erik De Castro/Reuters)

A bomb explodes behind the al-Nuri mosque complex

A bomb explodes behind the al-Nuri mosque complex, as seen through a hole in the wall of a house, as Iraqi Special Forces move toward Islamic State militant positions in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, Thursday, June 29, 2017. (Photo: Felipe Dana/AP)

An Iraqi Federal Police member gestures on the frontline

A member of the Iraqi Federal Police gestures on the frontline in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq June 28, 2017. (Photo: Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters)

An Iraqi Federal Police member runs for cover

A member of the Iraqi Federal Police runs for cover on the frontline in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, June 28, 2017. (Photo: Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters)

An Iraqi Federal Police member on the frontline

A member of the Iraqi Federal Police holds an air gun on the frontline in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq June 28, 2017. (Photo: Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters)

The destroyed al-Nuri mosque

An aerial view of the destroyed landmark al-Nuri mosque in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, June 28, 2017. (Photo: Felipe Dana/AP)

A member of the Iraqi Federal police rests

A member of the Iraqi Federal police rests at the frontline in the Old City of Mosul, Iraq, June 28, 2017. (Photo: Ahmed Jadallah/Reuters)

Iraqi forces walk past charred vehicles

Iraqi forces walk past charred vehicles as they advance through the Old City of Mosul on June 24, 2017 during the ongoing offensive to retake the last district held by the Islamic State (IS) group. (Photo: Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)

A suspect is questioned

A man suspected to be an Islamic State fighter is questioned by Iraqi special forces soldiers during conflicts near the old city of Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, June 24, 2017. (Photo: Felipe Dana/AP)

View from a vehicle windshield

A picture taken through a windshield shows Iraqi forces advancing through the Old City of Mosul on June 24, 2017 during the ongoing offensive to retake the last district held by the Islamic State (IS) group. (Photo: Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)

Cousins comfort each other

Zeid Ali, 12, left, and Hodayfa Ali, 11, comfort each other after their house was hit and collapsed during fighting between Iraqi forces and Islamic State militants in Mosul, Iraq, Saturday, June 24, 2017. The Ali cousins said some of their family members are still under the rubble. (Photo: Felipe Dana/AP)

Iraqis flee the Old City

Iraqis fleeing the Old City of Mosul arrive to the industrial district of the city on June 23, 2017 as they flee the fighting between Iraqi forces and Islamic State (IS) group jihadists. A suicide bomber blew himself up among civilians fleeing Mosul’s Old City, where Iraqi forces are gaining ground against jihadists mounting a fierce but desperate defence, officers said. (Photo: Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP/Getty Images)

An injured Iraqi reacts

An Iraqi man, who was injured in a suicide attack as people were escaping the Old City of Mosul, reacts as he arrives at a make-shift hospital on June 23, 2017. (Photo: Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)

An Iraqi paramedic calms a child

An Iraqi paramedic calms a child, who suffered a shock following a suicide attack as they were escaping the Old City of Mosul, upon their arrival to the area of a field hospital on June 23, 2017. (Photo: Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP/Getty Images)

An Iraqi Federal Police soldier on the frontline

Iraqi Federal Police soldiers on the frontline against Islamic State in Adedat, a neighborhood in the Old City of west Mosul, the last area of the city under Islamic State control, June 22, 2017. (Photo: Martyn Aim/Getty Images)

An Iraqi woman tries to calm a civilian

An Iraqi woman pours water to calm down a civilian, who witnessed a suicide attack as people were escaping the Old City of Mosul, as he cries on June 23, 2017.
(Photo: Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)

On the frontline

Iraqi Federal Police command and soldiers on the frontline against Islamic State in Adedat, a neighbourhood in the Old City of west Mosul, the last area of the city under Islamic State control, June 22, 2017. (Photo: Martyn Aim/Getty Images)

A wounded Iraqi boy receives treatment

An Iraqi boy, who suffered injuries following a suicide attack as he was escaping the Old City of Mosul, receives treatment at a field hospital on June 23, 2017. (Photo: Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP/Getty Images)

A banknote with Mosul’s iconic leaning minaret

An Iraqi policeman displays a 10,000-Iraqi dinar banknote bearing an image of Mosul’s iconic leaning minaret, known as the “Hadba” (Hunchback), on June 22, 2017, in Mosul. (Photo: Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)

Before and after photo of Mosul’s Al-Hadba minaret

This combination of pictures shows (L) a picture taken on June 20, 2017, of Mosul’s leaning Al-Hadba minaret and (R) a picture taken on June 22, 2017 of Mosul’s skyline missing it’s trademark minaret the day after it was blown up by Islamic State (IS) group fighters. Explosions on June 21 evening levelled both the Nuri mosque where Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi gave his first sermon as leader of the Islamic State group and its ancient leaning minaret, known as the “Hadba” (Hunchback). (Photo: Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP/Getty Images)

Iraqis queue to receive food ration

Iraqis queue to receive food rations in an area outside Mosul’s Old City on June 22, 2017, during the ongoing offensive by Iraqi forces to retake the last district still held by the Islamic State (IS) group. (Photo: Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP/Getty Images)

Debris in the Old City

A member of the Iraqi anti-terrorism forces (CTS) walks amidst the debris in the Old City of Mosul on June 22, 2017, during the ongoing offensive by Iraqi forces to retake the last district still held by the Islamic State (IS) group. (Photo: Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)

Iraqi anti-terrorism forces in the Old City

Members of the Iraqi anti-terrorism forces (CTS) look on from behind a wall in the Old City of Mosul on June 22, 2017, during the ongoing offensive by Iraqi forces to retake the last district still held by the Islamic State (IS) group. (Photo: Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)

Iraqis flee the Old City

Iraqis flee from the Old City of Mosul on June 22, 2017, during the ongoing offensive by Iraqi forces to retake the last district still held by the Islamic State (IS) group. (Photo: Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)

A U.S. soldier advises Iraqi forces in Mosul

A U.S. soldier advising Iraqi forces is seen in the city of Mosul on June 21, 2017, during the ongoing offensive by Iraqi troops to retake the last district still held by the Islamic State (IS) group. (Photo: Mohamed el-Shahed/AFP/Getty Images)

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An Iraqi carries a wounded man

An Iraqi carries a wounded man while fleeing from the Old City of Mosul as Iraqi forces advance on June 20, 2017, during the ongoing offensive to retake the last district still held by the Islamic State (IS) group. (Photo: Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)

Civilians flee the Old City

Civilians flee from the Old City of Mosul as Iraqi forces advance on June 20, 2017, during the ongoing offensive by Iraqi forces to retake the last district still held by the Islamic State (IS) group. (Photo: Ahmad al-Rubaye/AFP/Getty Images)