Iraq’s PM an­nounces vic­tory against Is­lamic State in Mo­sul

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - LOUISA LOVELUCK AND MUSTAFA SALIM IRBIL, IRAQ — The Wash­ing­ton Post

Iraq’s prime min­is­ter an­nounced the re­cap­ture of the city of Mo­sul on Mon­day, sig­nalling an end to the gru­elling nine-month bat­tle to dis­lodge Is­lamic State mil­i­tants from one of their most im­por­tant strongholds.

“From the heart of the lib­er­ated city of Mo­sul with the sac­ri­fices of Iraqis from all the prov­inces, we an­nounce the ma­jor vic­tory for all Iraq and Iraqis,” said Haider alAbadi, stand­ing in front of a bank of com­man­ders and Humvees.

Three years ago, Mo­sul’s se­cu­rity forces had col­lapsed in the face of the Is­lamic State’s ad­vance, and the city be­came fa­mous as the site from where the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Bagh­dadi, de­clared the es­tab­lish­ment of a “caliphate” span­ning swaths of Syria and Iraq.

This week, it has be­come the city where the Is­lamic State’s ter­ri­to­rial pre­ten­sions have crum­bled.

Al­though the group is likely to hang on to the core of its proto-state for months yet, the mil­i­tary tide ap­pears to be turn­ing in favour of a U.S.-led coali­tion of forces fight­ing the group in both coun­tries.

The bat­tle to re­cap­ture Mo­sul was the dead­li­est and most dif­fi­cult in the on­go­ing co-or­di­nated cam­paign against the ex­trem­ist group. Ac­cord­ing to the Pen­tagon, Iraq’s elite coun­tert­er­ror­ism force has suf­fered 40 per cent bat­tle losses dur­ing that time. Other units are be­lieved to have lost even more.

Half the city’s pop­u­la­tion has been dis­placed, and thou­sands of civil­ians are be­lieved to have been killed.

Western dis­tricts have been pum­meled by coali­tion airstrikes, Is­lamic State sui­cide bombs, and shelling. Those ar­eas most newly re­taken re­sem­ble a grey sea of rub­ble.

Abadi had be­gun his vic­tory tour of the city on Sun­day, con­grat­u­lat­ing com­man­ders as the coun­tert­er­ror­ism troops cleared the fi­nal pock­ets of Is­lamic State re­sis­tance.

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