Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has arrived in Mosul and congratulated the armed forces for their “victory” over Islamic State after nearly nine months of urban warfare against jihadist rule in the city by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL)
The militant’s defeat in Mosul three years after taking the city is a major blow for the radical Sunni Muslim group, which is also losing ground in its operational base in the Syrian city of Raqqa, where it has planned global attacks.
The militant group had seized Mosul, Iraq’s second-biggest city, in June 2014.
Abadi’s office said he thanked “the heroic fighters and the Iraqi people for the great victory.”
The operation has been backed by a US-led coalition battling ISIL in Syria and Iraq, which has carried out waves of air strikes against the group and deployed military advisers on the ground.
According to Reuters news agency, Many of them threw themselves into the river earlier on Sunday as they faced imminent defeat.
The agency also reported plumes of smoke over the Old City and decaying corpses of ISIL fighters lying on its streets.
The fall of Mosul would be the biggest defeat yet for ISIL three years after it seized the city in a lightning offensive.
Some of the Glimpse of Iraq’s War against ISIS
Image Source: Reuters News Agency
With air support by the US-led coalition, Iraqi forces launched the battle for Mosul in October, retaking the eastern part of the city in January and starting the operation for its western part the next month.
The nearly nine-month battle for Mosul has ruined parts of the city, killed thousands of civilians and displaced nearly one million people.
It is the country’s biggest war campaign since U.S. troops left Iraq on 18 December 2011.
The Iraqi Government has not revealed casualty figures, but a funding request from the US Department of Defence said the elite Counter-Terrorism Service, which has spearheaded the fight in Mosul, had suffered a loss of 40 per cent.