The prime minister of Iraq has urged the Islamic State group to surrender as government troops close in on its last urban stronghold in the country, Mosul.
Haider al-Abadi appeared on state TV wearing combat fatigues and said: “They have no choice. Either they surrender or they die.”
Iraqi Special Forces are now about 1km (0.6 miles) away from Mosul’s eastern edge and preparing to enter.
Meanwhile, units of the army are advancing from the south.
“We will close in on Daesh from all angles and God willing we will cut the snake’s head. They will have no way out and no way to escape,” Mr al-Abadi said, using another name for IS.
The army said units of the Iraqi military recaptured some villages to the east, north and south of Mosul on Monday.
It is unclear when the final offensive on Mosul will begin, and resistance from IS in the city has intensified.
Report says about 50,000 Iraqi security forces personnel, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, Sunni Arab tribesmen and Shia militiamen are involved in the offensive, which began more than two weeks ago, to drive IS militants out of their last major urban stronghold in the country.
Mosul fell to the jihadists in June 2014 and their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, chose a mosque in the city as a place to proclaim the establishment of a ‘caliphate’.
Before the offensive began on 17 October, there were believed to be between 3,000 and 5,000 militants remaining in Mosul, along with up to 1.5 million civilians.
More than 17,700 residents have fled so far and, according to the UN’s worst-case scenario, as many as 700,000 others could follow suit.