Iraq is proclaiming an end to Isis after retaking the ruins of Mosul’s grand mosque.
Iraq is proclaiming an end to Isis after retaking the ruins of Mosul’s grand mosque. Early Thursday, military spokesperson Brigadier General Yahya Rasool told state TV, “Their fictitious state has fallen.” The news was announced with elation, as it has been three years to the day since Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the establishment of the caliphate from the same spot.
The Independent reports that after it became apparent US-backed Iraqi forces were beginning to push back, Isis blew up the 12th-century al-Nuri mosque last week. Not long after, elite Iraqi troops entered the compound and “took control” of the surrounding streets. Because Isis tends to rig areas with booby traps, the entire area will need to be cleared by explosive experts, said Lt. Genl Abdul Wahab al-Saadi.
The Iraqi authorities expect an end to the eight-month-long battle within days. With Isis having retreated to an area less than 1 km square near the west side of the Tigris River, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has “issued instructions to bring the battle to its conclusion.”
This victory was not cheap. Thousands of civilians have been killed, and at least 850,000 have been driven from their homes. Additionally, miles of infrastructure has been reduced to rubble and according to those on the scene, the stench of dead bodies is “overpowering.”
Isis considered Mosul to be the “jewel” in its crown. Now, the caliphate continues to cling on to pockets of northern Iraq, near the border of Syria. Operation Inherent Resolve, which had a mission of retaking the former cosmopolitan city of 1.5 million people, began in October 2016. Now, the struggle is almost over.
Analysts are expecting the group to morph into a full-blown insurgent across the two countries, and to probably increase the number of terror attacks around the world. While a victory of sorts is being declared, the war is still not over.
“It’s important to differentiate between Isis as a global ideology and its physical quasi-state project,” said Dr Andreas Krieg of King’s College London’s Department of Defence Studies.“Isis is not the root cause of Iraq’s problems, it’s a symptom of it. And all the local grievances that allowed Isis to flourish in the first place – physical insecurity, disenfranchisement – are not going to go away. There are many in northern Iraq who are not going to cheer and support the Baghdad government now they’ve been liberated from one form of oppression. They are already bracing for the next one.”
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