Iraq PM de­clares victory in Mosul

Kuwait Times - - FRONT PAGE -

Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Haider AlAbadi de­clared victory in the “lib­er­ated” city of Mosul yes­ter­day, his of­fice said, in the big­gest de­feat yet for the Is­lamic State group. Abadi “ar­rives in the lib­er­ated city of Mosul and con­grat­u­lates the heroic fight­ers and the Iraqi peo­ple on the achieve­ment of the ma­jor victory,” his of­fice said in a state­ment. The an­nounce­ment comes after a gru­el­ing nearly nine-month bat­tle to re­take the north­ern city from the mil­i­tants after three years un­der their rule.

A photo on Abadi’s of­fi­cial Twit­ter ac­count showed him dressed in a black mil­i­tary uni­form and cap as he ar­rived in Mosul to an­nounce the re­cap­ture of the city. The fight­ing did not seem to be com­pletely over yet, with gun­fire still au­di­ble in Mosul and air strikes hit­ting the city around the time the premier’s of­fice re­leased the state­ment. The de­clared victory in Mosul marks an epic mile­stone for the Iraqi se­cu­rity forces, who had crum­bled in the face of an IS on­slaught across Iraq in 2014.

IS swept across much of Iraq’s Sunni Arab heart­land in a light­ning of­fen­sive that year, pro­claim­ing a self-styled “caliphate” strad­dling Iraq and neigh­bor­ing Syria. But the ji­hadist group, which is fac­ing twin of­fen­sives backed by a USled coali­tion in both coun­tries, has since lost large parts of the ter­ri­tory it once con­trolled. The Iraqi forces launched their cam­paign to re­cap­ture Mosul in Oc­to­ber, seiz­ing its east­ern side in Jan­uary and launch­ing the bat­tle for its west­ern part the next month.

But the fight grew tougher when Iraqi forces en­tered the densely pop­u­lated Old City on the west­ern bank of the Ti­gris River that di­vides the city. In re­cent days, se­cu­rity forces have killed ji­hadists try­ing to es­cape their dwin­dling foothold in Mosul, as Iraqi units fought to re­take the last two IS-held ar­eas near the Ti­gris. Ear­lier yes­ter­day, Iraq’s Joint Op­er­a­tions Com­mand had said it killed “30 ter­ror­ists” try­ing to es­cape across the river.

Even in the fi­nal days of the bat­tle, thou­sands of civil­ians re­mained trapped in­side the Old City and those who fled ar­rived grief-stricken after los­ing rel­a­tives in ji­hadist sniper fire and bom­bard­ments. Around 915,000 res­i­dents have fled Mosul since the start of the bat­tle for the city in Oc­to­ber, the United Na­tions said this week. Iraqi forces are backed by air strikes and ad­vis­ers of the US-led coali­tion fight­ing IS in Iraq and Syria since 2014.

Abadi de­clared on Twit­ter late last month that “we are see­ing the end of the fake (IS) state”. The re­cap­ture of Mosul will not how­ever mark the end of the threat posed by IS, which holds ter­ri­tory else­where in Iraq and is able to carry out fre­quent bomb­ings in gov­ern­ment-held ar­eas. In Syria, a US-backed Kur­dish-Arab al­liance is fight­ing to oust the group from the north­ern city of Raqqa after pen­e­trat­ing its heav­ily for­ti­fied his­toric cen­ter.


MOSUL: Iraqi Prime Min­is­ter Haider Al-Abadi is wrapped in the Iraqi na­tional flag while walk­ing along­side po­lice and army of­fi­cers upon his ar­rival yes­ter­day.

DOHA: Qatar’s At­tor­ney Gen­eral Ali bin Fe­tais Al-Marri speaks after the launch of the Com­pen­sa­tion Claims Com­mit­tee dur­ing a press con­fer­ence yes­ter­day. — AFP

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