The Iraqi Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi has formally declared victory over the Islamic State in the city of Mosul, marking the biggest defeat for the international terrorist group since they first declared a caliphate three years ago. “I announce from here the end and the failure and the collapse of the terrorist state of falsehood and terrorism, which the terrorist Daesh [ISIS] announced from Mosul,” said Mr Abadi, in a speech delivered on state television.
A 100,000 strong coalition of Iraqi Government units, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militias launched the offensive to recapture the city from the militants in October. The group was provided key air and ground support from the US-led coalition.
In his speech, Mr Abadi thanks the troops and the coalition, and declared a week long holiday throughout the country to mark the victory. However, Mr Abadi was also cautious to warn of the challenges that stay lay ahead. “We have another mission ahead of us, to build and clear Daesh cells and that requires an intelligence and security effort, and the unity which enabled us to fight Daesh,” said Mr Abadi.
Since the fighting began, about 900,000 residents have been displaced, while thousands of others are believe to have been killed.
The coalition fighters have also welcomed the victory, but warn that there is still a lot that needs to happen before the threat of ISIS is completely eradicated. US General Steve Townsend is the head of coalition forces for Iraq and Syria. He says that the war is still far from being over. “Iraqi Militia forces, Kurdish fighters and the global coalition also deserve a share of the credit for their sacrifices to achieve this hard-won victory,” he said. “Make no mistake, this victory alone does not eliminate ISIS and there is still a tough fight ahead.”
The focus of the international battle against ISIS in the region will now be shifted to the militant’s stronghold in the Syrian city of Raqqa.