Iraqi commander says 300 IS fighters holed up in Mosul

Demonstrators chant pro-al-Qaida-inspired Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as they wave al-Qaida flags in front of the provincial government headquarters in Mosul, 225 miles (360 kilometers) northwest of Baghdad, Iraq, Monday, June 16, 2014. Sunni militants captured a key northern Iraqi town along the highway to Syria early on Monday, compounding the woes of Iraq's Shiite-led government a week after it lost a vast swath of territory to the insurgents in the country's north. (AP Photo)

MOSUL, Iraq (AP) — An Iraqi commander says he believes some 300 Islamic State fighters remain in the small patch of territory still controlled by the group in Mosul’s Old City.

Lt. Gen. Sami al-Aridi of Iraq’s special forces said Wednesday that the militants are confined to a 500 square meter (600 sq. yard) area.

He spoke the day after Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi congratulated the armed forces on a “big victory” in Mosul, despite ongoing clashes.

IS captured Mosul in a matter of days when it swept across northern and central Iraq in the summer of 2014. Iraqi forces backed by a U.S.-led coalition launched a major operation to retake the city in October.

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