Mosul victory welcomed
IS group also confirms death of its top leader al-Baghdadi
BAGHDAD / BEIJING — World leaders congratulated Iraq on Tuesday after Baghdad declared “total victory” over the Islamic State group in Mosul, retaking full control of the city three years after it was seized by extremists bent on building a global caliphate.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared on Monday that Mosul was liberated from the IS after nine months of fierce fighting to dislodge the militants from their last major stronghold in Iraq.
“I declare to the whole world the end, failure and collapse of Daesh state, the state of (IS group) terrorism, started here in Mosul three years ago,” Abadi said in a speech in Mosul.
Following the announcement, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hailed the victory as a significant step in the fight against terrorism.
“The United Nations will stand by the government of Iraq in the tasks ahead of creating the necessary conditions for the voluntary, safe and dignified return of displaced communities, restoring the rule of law in freed up areas, preventing a return to violence and fostering accountability for all violations committed,” he said.
China also congratulated Iraq on the victory. Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said on Monday: “China will support the Iraqi government, just like always, in safeguarding the country’s stability and pushing forward economic reconstruction.”
Meanwhile, the IS group confirmed the death of its top leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Iraqi news agency al-Sumaria News reported on Tuesday.
In Baghdad on Monday, thousands of Iraqis gathered to celebrate the historic victory. Long lines of civilian cars decorated with roses, honked their horns and roamed the main streets, while hundreds of people in groups were raising Iraqi flags, dancing and chanting victory songs and congratulating each other in many areas across the city, including Tahrir Square Mansour.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the liberation of Mosul “underscores the success of the international effort led by the Iraqi security forces”.
“We honor the sacrifices of the Iraqi Security Forces and Iraqi people, as well as the Kurdish Peshmerga, in achieving this victory, and express condolences for the many lives lost in the operation,” the top US diplomat said.
He also cautioned that there is still much work to be done to defeat the IS, adding that the coalition forces will continue to stand with its Iraqi partners to ensure that IS is defeated wherever it remains in Iraq.
Mosul had come under IS control since June 2014. The IS militants used the city as its base and occupied a large swathe of land in Iraq’s northern and western regions.
Regional countries in the Middle East also sent their congratulations.
Arab League Secretary General Ahmed Abul Gheit on Monday congratulated Iraqi Armed Forces on the “key achievement”, spokesman Mahmoud Afifi was quoted by Egypt’s official MENA news agency as saying.
Gheit said Iraqi people’s support for the army had a great role in defeating the IS.
Syria’s Foreign Ministry said that the Mosul victory “is for all those who believed that eliminating IS is a noble goal that deserves the sacrifice”.
It stressed that cooperation is ongoing between the Syrian and Iraqi forces to eradicate the remnants of the IS, “because uniting our efforts is the main guarantee for making sure the IS has no return”.
Iranian Defense Minister Hossein Dehqan also congratulated Iraq on the Mosul victory.
China will support the Iraqi government, just like always, in safeguarding the country’s stability and pushing forward economic reconstruction.” Geng Shuang, Foreign Ministry spokesman
Iraqi forces celebrate in the Old City of Mosul on Monday after the government announced the liberation of the embattled city from Islamic State control.
Iraqis celebrate the liberation of Mosul from the Islamic State group in Baghdad on Monday.