Mosul – Iraqi Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi announced on Sunday the “major victory” in the city of Mosul that was “liberated” from ISIS terrorists 37 months after they captured it on June 9, 2014, said his press office.
After nearly nine months of urban warfare, his office issued a statement saying: “The commander in chief of the armed forces (Prime Minister) Haidar al-Abadi arrived in the liberated city of Mosul and congratulated the heroic fighters and Iraqi people for the great victory.”
According to AFP, photographs posted on the PM’s official Twitter account showed him dressed in a black military uniform upon his arrival in the city.
State television later showed him touring Mosul on foot alongside residents of Iraq’s second-largest city.
The victory is a major blow for the ISIS terrorist group, which is also losing ground in its operational base in the Syrian city of Raqqa from where it has planned global attacks.
Around 915,000 people were displaced in the battle for Mosul, while some 700,000 are refugees, said the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
Cornered in a shrinking area, the militants resorted to sending women suicide bombers among the thousands of civilians who are emerging from the battlefield wounded, malnourished and fearful, Iraqi army officers said.
Backed by coalition air strikes, an array of Iraqi forces gradually clawed back territory from ISIS until reaching Mosul, the group’s de facto capital in Iraq, last October.
It is almost exactly three years since the ultra-hardline group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, proclaimed a so-called “caliphate” spanning Syria and Iraq from the pulpit of Mosul’s medieval Grand al-Nuri mosque.
The UN predicts it will cost more than $1 billion to repair basic infrastructure in Mosul. In some of the worst affected areas, almost no buildings appear to have escaped damage and Mosul’s dense construction means the extent of the devastation might be underestimated, UN officials said.
Even though the loss of the city will be a major blow for the terrorist group, it will not mark its end. Observers believe that the extremists will increasingly resort to surprise bombings, a strategy that they have adopted for years, especially since the group still controls several Iraqi regions.
The US Department of Defense has requested $1.269 billion in US budget funds for 2018 to continue supporting Iraqi forces, which collapsed in the face of the militants who overran Mosul in 2014.