by WorldTribune Staff, July 10, 2017
Iraq’s prime minister on July 9 said Mosul has been liberated after a 9-month battle with Islamic State (ISIS).
After ISIS took control of Mosul in June 2014 following the Obama administration’s pullout of U.S. forces, local Kurdish Peshmerga fighters fought ferociously to block the terror group from advancing further into northern Iraq.
The U.S.-backed coalition aided the recapture of Mosul by providing much-needed air support and targeted bombing attacks against ISIS positions, officials said.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared Mosul’s liberation complete as he toured the city, much of it in ruins, with members of the Iraqi armed forces.
“The commander in chief of the armed forces Haider al-Abadi arrived in the liberated city of Mosul and congratulated the heroic fighters and the Iraqi people on the achievement of the major victory,” a spokesperson for al-Abadi said.
Iraqi forces are next expected to launch an offensive on ISIS’s only remaining stronghold, in Tal Afar, roughly 40 miles west of Mosul.
“Tal Afar is the next point of liberation with the participation of all military units,” Lt. Gen. Abdel Amir Rashid Yarallah, the commander of Iraq’s Joint Military Operations, told Iraqi media on July 4.
“The Turkmen-dominated city of Tal Afar is completely encircled by Turkmen Shia militia and Peshmerga forces,” Abu Retha al Najjar, the leader of the 10,000-man Turkmen Shia Popular Mobilization Forces, told the Washington Free Beacon on July 9.
Najjar, who directs 2,500 fighters engaged in Tal Afar, said that Tal Afar has approximately 900 ISIS fighters left, of which 650 are local and 250 are foreign fighters. “The district of Tal Afar once held 350,000 Turkmen residents, including Shia and Sunni families, but only 30,000 civilians still live there, chiefly in the town of Maria,” he said.