Displaced Iraqi residents cross a military pontoon bridge in western Mosul, Iraq, June 22, 2017.
Displaced Iraqi residents cross a military pontoon bridge in western Mosul, Iraq, June 22, 2017.

Mosul's Old City is being reduced to rubble. As street-to-street battles continue, thousands of trapped civilians are desperately trying to make their way out.

Analysts say the destruction of the Grand Al Nuri Mosque by Daesh on Wednesday could speed the advance of government forces, which had been slowed by fear of damaging it.

The Iraqi prime minister said Daesh is near defeat, and predicts Iraqi forces will retake Mosul within days.

TRT World's Sarah Jones reports.

He further said, "Blowing up the Al Hadba minaret and the Al Nuri mosque amounts to an official acknowledgement of defeat," he said on his website.

"It's a matter of a few days and we will announce the total liberation of Mosul," he later told reporters in Baghdad, pledging to rebuild the mosque and other historical sites destroyed by the insurgents.

Daesh on the verge of collapse

Defence analysts said the decision to destroy the mosque could indicate the militants were on the verge of collapse.

"They had said they would fight until their last breath defending the mosque," Baghdad-based security expert Safaa al A'sam said. "The fact is that they are no longer capable of standing in the face of Iraqi government forces."

US Army Colonel Ryan Dillon, spokesman for the US-led international coalition assisting the Iraqi effort to defeat Daesh, said Iraqi security forces were continuing to push into remaining Daesh-held territory.

"There are two square kilometres left in West Mosul before the entire city is liberated," he said.

The fall of Mosul would mark the effective end of the Iraqi half of the "caliphate," though Daesh would still hold some territory west and south of the city.

US-backed militias are also closing on Daesh's Syrian stronghold, Raqqa.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies