Iraqi security forces expect to take full control of Mosul within hours as Islamic State's defensive lines crumble in its former de facto capital in Iraq, military commanders say.
Dozens of soldiers celebrated on Saturday amid the rubble on the banks of the Tigris river without waiting for a formal victory declaration, some dancing to music blaring out from a truck and firing machine guns into the air, a Reuters correspondent says.
The mood was less festive, however, among some of the nearly one million Mosul residents displaced by months of combat, many of whom are living in camps outside the city with little respite from the blazing summer heat.
"If there is no rebuilding and people don't return to their homes and regain their belongings, what is the meaning of liberation?" Mohammed Haji Ahmed, 43, a clothing trader, said in the Hassan Sham camp to the east of Mosul.
"We are seeing now the last metres and then final victory will be announced," a television presenter said, citing the channel's correspondents embedded with security forces fighting in Islamic State's redoubt in the Old City of Mosul. "It's a matter of hours," she said.
A US-led international coalition is providing air and ground support to the eight-month campaign to wrest back Mosul, by far the largest city seized by IS in 2014.
Almost exactly three years ago, the ultra-hardline group's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared from Mosul a "caliphate" over adjoining parts of Iraq and Syria.
A military spokesperson cited by the TV said the insurgents' defence lines were collapsing. Iraqi commanders say the militants were fighting for every metre with snipers, grenades and suicide bombers, forcing security forces to fight house-to-house in the densely populated maze of narrow alleyways.
Dozens of insurgents were killed on Saturday and others tried to escape by swimming across the Tigris, state TV said.
"The battle has reached the phase of chasing the insurgents in remaining blocks," the Iraqi military media office said in a statement. "Some members of Daesh have surrendered," it added, using an Arab acronym of IS.
Artillery explosions and gunfire could still be heard on Saturday afternoon and a column of smoke billowed over the Old City riverside, the Reuters correspondent said.
The road where the soldiers celebrated was scarred with gaping holes from explosions and rubble from a flattened multi-storey shopping mall. Rubbish and ammunition boxes were strewn around and there was no sign of civilians.
Stripped of Mosul, IS's dominion in Iraq will be reduced to mainly rural, desert areas west and south of the city where tens of thousands of people live. The militants are expected to keep up attacks on selected targets across Iraq.