The Iraqi joint operations commander said on Thursday that troops battling the Islamic State have retaken roughly 70 percent of eastern Mosul from the terrorist group.
Lieutenant General Talib Shanghati told Reuters that Iraqi troops expect to reach the Tigris River that divides the city in the next few days. Shanghati, who also heads the Iraqi counterterrorism service, said assistance from residents has helped accelerate the government's operation to liberate Mosul.
"Roughly 65 to 70 percent of the eastern side has been liberated," Shaghati said late Wednesday in the Kurdish capital of Erbil. "I think in the coming few days we will see the full liberation of the eastern side."
The western part of the city remains under ISIS control. Shaghati expects the impending battle in western Mosul to be hard fought by militants who have peppered the area with snipers and suicide car bombs numbering "in the hundreds."
The offensive to retake the city is now in its 12th week. The operation gained momentum last week as U.S.-led coalition forces cleared several eastern districts despite strong resistance from jihadists.
The Pentagon announced late Wednesday that American troops had entered Mosul to assist Iraqi troops in retaking the city, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Earlier in the day, U.S. Air Force Col. John Dorrian told reporters that the coalition's adviser corps has doubled to 450 people in recent weeks to "accelerate the advance of the Iraqi security forces."