Iraqi prime minister declares victory over Isis in Mosul
The Iraqi prime minister has arrived in Mosul to declare ‘victory’ over so-called Islamic State.
After a nine month offensive, he said the last Isis fighters have now been driven out of the city, which is where they first declared their ‘caliphate’.
Photos show fighters cheering, waving their weapons and taking selfies to celebrate the ‘liberation’ of the city from hardline Islamists, who had forced people living there to witness public executions and changed the school curriculum to focus on weapons and strict interpretations of religious teaching.
Around 30 Isis fighters were killed trying to escape by swimming across the Tigris river, despite previously vowing to fight to the death.
Bombardments and fighting had increased in recent weeks, with witnesses describing seeing Isis fighters dying in the streets.
Thousands of refugees fled to the relative safety of camps after the battle left large parts of Mosul in ruins, killed thousands of civilians and displaced nearly one million people.
The decaying corpses of militants lay in the narrow streets of the Old City where Islamic State has staged a last stand against Iraqi forces backed by a US-led coalition.
A statement from the government said: ‘The commander in chief of the armed forces (Prime Minister) Haider al-Abadi arrived in the liberated city of Mosul and congratulated the heroic fighters and the Iraqi people for the great victory.’
Isis had vowed to ‘fight to the death’ in Mosul, but Iraqi military spokesman Brigadier General Yahya Rasool told state TV earlier on Sunday that 30 militants had been killed attempting to escape by swimming across the River Tigris that bisects the city.
Cornered in a shrinking area, the militants have resorted to sending women suicide bombers among the thousands of civilians who are emerging from the battlefield wounded, malnourished and fearful.
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