Iraqi prime minister declares ‘total victory’ in Mosul
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.