Iraqi prime min­is­ter de­clares ‘to­tal vic­tory’ in Mo­sul

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

Prime Min­is­ter Haider al Abadi de­clared vic­tory Mon­day evening over the Is­lamic State in Mo­sul af­ter nearly nine months of gru­elling com­bat to drive the mil­i­tants out of Iraq’s sec­ond­largest city.

“We an­nounce the to­tal vic­tory for Iraq and all Iraqis,’’ al-Abadi said, speak­ing from a small base in western Mo­sul on the edge of the Old City, where the last pock­ets of re­sis­tance had been hold­ing out.

“This great feast day crowned the vic­to­ries of the fight­ers and the Iraqis for the past three years,’’ he said.

Hours ear­lier, airstrikes pounded the last IS-held ter­ri­tory on the western edge of the Ti­gris River. In re­cent days, Iraqi troops, closely backed by airstrikes from the U.S.-led coali­tion, con­fined the re­main­ing few hun­dred ex­trem­ists in an area mea­sur­ing less than a square kilo­me­tre.

Shortly af­ter al-Abadi’s speech, the coali­tion con­grat­u­lated him on the vic­tory against “a bru­tal and evil en­emy,’’ ac­cord­ing to a state­ment.

“While there are still ar­eas of the Old City of Mo­sul that must be back-cleared of ex­plo­sive de­vices and pos­si­ble ISIS fight­ers in hid­ing, the ISF have Mo­sul now firmly un­der their con­trol,’’ the state­ment added.

Al-Abadi was in Mo­sul on Sun­day, con­grat­u­lat­ing Iraqi sol­diers on re­cent gains but stop­ping short of declar­ing an out­right vic­tory.

The bat­tle for Mo­sul was Iraq’s long­est and most pun­ish­ing con­ven­tional fight against IS in the more than three-year war against the ex­trem­ists.

Launched in Oc­to­ber, the mas­sive op­er­a­tion com­prised more than 70,000 Iraqi troops drawn from the coun­try’s army, spe­cial forces, po­lice, tribal fight­ers and mostly Shi­ite para­mil­i­tary forces.

Over the course of the cam­paign, Iraq’s spe­cial forces units who largely led the as­sault have faced ca­su­alty rates of 40 per cent, ac­cord­ing to a re­port in May from the of­fice of the U.S. sec­re­tary of de­fence.

Ad­di­tion­ally, thou­sands of civil­ians were es­ti­mated to have been killed, ac­cord­ing to Nin­eveh’s pro­vin­cial coun­cil. That did not in­clude those still be­lieved buried un­der col­lapsed build­ings.

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