UNITED NATIONS —
The United Nations' top diplomat in Iraq said the so-called Islamic State's days "are numbered" in that country and the liberation of the city of Mosul is "imminent."
"The days of so-called ISIL caliphate in Iraq are numbered, thanks to the bravery and patriotism of the Iraqi security forces, including the popular mobilization forces, the peshmerga and the tribal volunteers, as well as the endurance of the Iraqi people," the head of the U.N. Assistance Mission in Iraq, Jan Kubis, told Security Council members Monday.
"The liberation of Mosul is imminent," he said of the terror group's last stronghold in Iraq. "Operations are shifting to remaining areas and pockets of Daesh presence, including along the borders with Syria," Kubis said.
ISIL and Daesh are two acronyms by which the terror group is known.
The terrorists seized Iraq's second largest city in mid-2014. Iraqi national forces with support from the international anti-ISIL coalition began military operations to retake Mosul in October 2016. The eastern part of Mosul was retaken in late January and the battle for the western sector started the following month.
"We have restored 90 percent of the right bank and we have made the protection of civilians our priority, as terrorists are using them as human shields," Iraq's U.N. envoy Mohammed Sahib Mejid Marzooq told the meeting.
But the military operations have come at a high cost to the Iraqi population. The U.N. Office of Humanitarian Affairs says nearly 660,000 people have been displaced from Mosul city since the operation began last year; nearly a half million of them are from western Mosul.
The United Nations says civilians coming out of the city have reported shortages of food, clean drinking water, fuel, medicines and infant formula.