Female Daesh militants are firing on their forces and using children as human shields as the terrorist group defends its last sliver of Mosul's Old City, an Iraqi commander said late on Thursday.
The militants' use of human shields has repeatedly slowed Iraqi military advances throughout the nearly nine-month offensive to retake the country's second-largest city.
"The women are fighting with their children right beside them," Lt Gen Sami al Aridi said. "It's making us hesitant to use air strikes, to advance. If it weren't for this, we could be finished in just a few hours."
"For a child, even if his father is a criminal, what has he done?" Aridi said. "At the same time, my men are still taking casualties. We had 14 wounded today already."
TRT World's Nicole Johnston, who's reporting from West Mosul, said that civilians are bearing the maximum brunt of this conflict.
"Daesh on last legs"
Daesh are "on their last legs" in Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa, a Canadian army commander said.
"We've certainly maintained the pressure on them. The Iraqi Security Forces and our partners in Syria have been nothing short of amazing in their ability to continue to keep the pressure on ISIL to the point where it's incapable of reinforcing from one side to another," David Anderson, Brigadier General of the Canadian army said.
"The simultaneity of this has been pretty awesome."
Women have also carried out suicide bombings against Iraqi forces. Three female suicide bombers hiding among fleeing civilians killed at least three soldiers over the past week.
It's unclear how many civilians remain in the militants' last enclave, but the UN says some 2,000 to 3,500 people have been fleeing on a daily basis.
$1 billion required to repair basic infrastructure in Mosul
Daesh captured the entire city in a matter of days in the summer of 2014, when they swept across northern and central Iraq. Iraqi forces, with the help of a US-led coalition, have since retaken most of that territory, and view Mosul as a decisive battle.
Once Mosul has gone, Daesh's territory in Iraq will be limited to areas west and south of the city where some tens of thousands of civilians live, and it is expected to keep up asymmetric attacks across the country.
The battle to retake Mosul has already forced 870,000 people from their homes, according to the UN.
The UN predicts it will cost more than $1 billion to repair basic infrastructure in Mosul.
The offensive has damaged thousands of structures in Mosul's Old City and destroyed nearly 500 buildings, satellite imagery released by the UN on Thursday showed.