Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or Daesh) in the city of Mosul today. In a statement, he announced that this was “the end of the Daesh state”.
"Their fictitious state has fallen," an Iraqi military spokesman, Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, also reportedly told state TV.
Iraqi forces have, over the last few hours moved into some of the last remaining blocks of Mosul controlled by ISIS, recapturing the ruins of the historic Al-Noori Mosque this morning.
The Battle for Mosul began in October 2016, and it has taken the Iraqi Security Forces, and their US allies months of hard fighting in order to claw the city back from the Islamist group. First, the ISF and Peshmerga moved into the eastern side of the city, fully clearing it from ISIS by late January this year. During this time, the Iraqi forces came under attack by wave after wave of car bombs and suicidal infantry, many of whom deployed from hidden positions within the dense urban area.
Then, after a brief pause in the fighting, ISF and PMU forces, backed by Coalition airstrikes pushed into the western side of Mosul from the south. Once more they faced heavy fighting, but also a new kind of a threat - armed drones deployed by ISIS which would drop small bombs on advancing troops. As well ISIS deployed limited chemical weapons in an attempt to slow the Iraqi advance.
Now, after over 8 months of fighting and tens of thousands of military and civilian casualties, ISIS was forced into a final stand within the Old City of Mosul - a dense warren of narrow alleys and closely packed buildings, which heavily favored the defenders. Today these last positions began to collapse, and Iraqi forces pushed into the heart of the Old City, capturing the remains of the Al-Nuri Mosque, where ISIS originally declared its so-called Caliphate.
While the recapture of Mosul means the near-end of ISIS as a conventional threat in Iraq, the organization will likely continue to wage an intensive insurgency against the Iraqi state in the medium-term future. As well, ISIS also continues to hold significant territory in Syria, yet this too is under serious pressure.