(CNSNews.com) – As the fight to liberate Mosul continues, a U.S. military spokesman told reporters on Wednesday, “We think that there are fewer than a thousand fighters left in the city -- probably well short of a thousand fighters.
“But they are in the densest urban terrain of Mosul, and they're going to be very difficult …to attack,” said Air Force Col. John Dorrian, spokesman for the U.S.-led coalition.
Dorrian rejected any suggestion that the fight to liberate Mosul has “stalemated.”
With regard to the progress in Mosul, the Iraqi Security Forces reduce the number of ISIS fighters with each passing day. They reduce the number of ISIS resources, so vehicle- borne improvised explosive devices, weapons, fighting positions, all the things that have caused such mayhem in the city.
The Iraqi security forces continue their maneuver around the city and they'll position themselves for these last few neighborhoods. It will be very dangerous, difficult fighting. It -- it will certainly be dangerous as they move into these very dense urban areas, the ancient part of the city with the very narrow roads.
But they do make progress toward that end every day. And I know that the Iraqi security forces are confident of their ability to finish the enemy in place in Mosul very soon.
Dorrian said the Iraqi Security Forces “are more than capable" of stopping the escape of ISIS fighters from Mosul, “as the ISF have built up the perimeter in a manner that makes a breakout very difficult.”
He said ISIS fighters are firing not only at Iraqi troops, but also at civilians trying to escape the city.
Further north, in Raqqah, Syria, Dorrian said efforts continue to isolate that city.
“We believe there are 3,000 to 4,000 ISIS fighters in Raqqah, including foreign fighters and various leadership figures,” Dorrian said.
“This is a city that holds special significance for the enemy. They consider it their capital in Syria. So it's not an area that they're just going to give up very easily. So it remains a priority target for the coalition to liberate. And that's exactly what we're going to do.
"With regard to enemy freedom of movement, the city is being isolated. Each day, it gets more isolated, as the Syrian Arab Coalition and Syrian Democratic Forces seize more territory from the enemy. At some point, you know, the city will be very difficult for enemy fighters or leaders to leave."