Iraq’s PM announces victory against Islamic State in Mosul
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.