Over the weekend, coalition forces reportedly began to open up exit routes for civilians to escape the Old City of #Mosul as Iraqi forces under the coalition continue their battle with #ISIS fighters for control of the city. The battle for Mosul has been ongoing for eight months and until now, with little end in sight.

This is because was a turning point last week, with the destruction of the Grand al-Nouri Mosque and its minaret which were both destroyed by the extremists who in turn blamed coalition airstrikes.

Destroying buildings to destroy ISIS

It's been widely reported that due to the how densely populated the city is, the battle has been as difficult as expected.

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Of the many cities Iraqi forces have purged ISIS fighters from, Mosul was said to be the greatest challenge. Even as more people are evacuated from the Old City, IS fighters have used civilians as human shields or hid as suicide bombers among groups of feeling civilians, inflicting more casualties. For this reason, it's been reported that commanders finally decided that saving the tens of thousands of civilians still held up in the city was a priority over being careful not to destroy buildings.

That decision might have had something to do with the destruction of the Grand Mosque as Iraqi forces were hoping to take it as a symbolic win against extremist fighters. The mosque also held symbolic importance for ISIS as that is where their leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the group's caliphate in early 2014.

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The destruction of whole neighborhoods currently permeates the view, and the smell of the rotting bodies of IS fighters permeates the air. Iraqi Special Forces have reportedly broken through parts of the city that were under IS control and have also repelled various counter-attacks against them that included suicide bombers.

'Surrender or die.'

Commanders claim that they are in their final phase of removing the Islamic State from the city, a claim they've consistently made throughout the battle. With the loss of the al-Nouri mosque -- as Iraqi forces had already admitted that taking the mosque would have been a sign of their victory; they have instead placed their national flag opposite of where the mosque once stood. Their symbolic victory, in this case, took place after they captured the Faruq district.

Lieutenant General Abdul Ghani al-Assadi who is the commander of the Counter-Terrorism Service (CTS) elite units said on Monday that the battle would be over in a few days. His reasoning for this bold claim is that there was a small part of the city still left to take over.

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According to him, "two square kilometers" to be exact.

Al-Assadi said that they gave the IS fighters that are left a chance to surrender or die. When he was asked by a CBS News reporter of whether he thought ISIS leader al-Baghdadi was still alive, Commander Al-Assadi said it didn't matter as they consider him just to be another fighter for the Islamic State. Here one CBS report that goes into details of that destruction. #Al Nouri Mosque