British Foreign Secretary says terrorist group is "failing and disintegrating"
The Iraqi army claims it has pushed deeper into eastern Mosul as the battle to regain control of the city from Islamic State intensifies.
Reports indicate troops are now around five miles from the centre of city and British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has claimed the Islamic State group is “failing and disintegrating.”
The reclusive leader of the terrorist group has issued a statement urging his followers to stand firm in the face of the advance according to the AP news agency.
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's message was reportedly released late on Wednesday - however it is unclear when the video was recorded as al-Baghdadi's whereabouts are still unknown.
Iraqi Special Forces moved into the eastern outskirts of Mosul on Tuesday following two weeks of advances through Islamic State held territory.
Mosul holds a special significance to the terrorist group as it was from inside the city that al-Baghdadi originally declared an Islamic Caliphate in 2014.
According to AP reports, al-Baghdadi used the recording to rally his fighters - especially in Mosul - and called on them to remain resilient and steadfast.
Boris Johnson told the House of Commons that it is now a matter of “when not if” Islamic State is defeated - however Sky’s Middle East correspondent Alex Rossi - who is situated in nearby Erbil - said it is not going to be easy to progress further.
“There is Islamic State Fighters hiding amongst the civilian population,” he said.
“They are facing car bombs. They are also facing militants that are moving in and out of the houses. They are hiding in tunnels and popping up and taking pot-shots with rocket launchers and also sniper rifles.”
Brett McGurk, the US special envoy to the coalition fighting Islamic State said the push into Mosul’s eastern neighbourhoods is a “milestone” and claimed the advance was “ahead of schedule.”