IRAQI forces were still battling Daesh militants in a small area of Mosul yesterday, a day after the prime minister visited to congratulate the troops on retaking nearly all of the country’s second largest city.

Iraqi commanders believe hundreds of Daesh fighters remain inside the group’s last enclave and are using their families as human shields in a fight to the death.

Humvees could be seen racing out of the Old City, ferrying wounded soldiers to field hospitals.

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“There’s no accurate estimate for the Daesh fighters and the families who are stuck there,” said Lieutenant General Abdul-Ghani al-Asadi, a senior special forces commander.

He said most civilians left in the Old City are believed to be family members of those belonging to Daesh.

“But we will not accuse them of anything,” he said. “If they don’t carry weapons they are civilians.”

The battle for Mosul has killed thousands and displaced more than 897,000 people, and the United Nations said yesterday there was no end in sight to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq despite the recent gains in Mosul.

It said thousands of Mosul residents will likely remain displaced from the city after the fight is concluded because of “extensive damage caused during the conflict”.

Air strikes, artillery and militant bombings have destroyed thousands of buildings and key infrastructure.

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