Iraqi Government declares victory after recapturing city of Mosul from ISIS
After a grueling nine-month battle for the city of Mosul, Iraqi forces have declared victory over Isis. Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived in the city to congratulate his victorious troops. The Iraqi flag now once again flies above the city on the banks of the Tigris River, as elite officials triumphantly raised it to punctuate the battle. It was three years prior that Iraq witnessed a crushing defeat in Mosul at the hands of Isis, which makes the magnitude of this victory that much more significant.
The original battle three years ago was a humiliating defeat for Iraqi forces, as their garrison of roughly 20,000 soldiers, equipped with tanks and helicopters lost the city to a mere few thousand. The only Isis forces that remain in the Old City are snipers who still hold one building and continue shooting.
The battle left a severe mark of devastation on the city, however, as the destruction caused by multiple airstrikes reduced entire blocks to rubble. According to a report by The Independent, wherever Isis was able to make a stand in the city, Iraqi forces called in the US-led coalition to use its massive firepower, which exacerbated the destruction of a nine-month battle.
According to the same Independent report, the magnitude of the Iraqi victory is not in question, however, it only does so much. Iraqi forces heavily depend on the three-pronged efforts of their elite units; the Federal Police, Counter-Terrorism Services (CTS), and the Emergency Response Division, in conjunction with the air-based coalition. The casualties, especially for the CTS have been great, losing some 40 percent of their forces.
This shortage of effective military forces could become a roadblock for Baghdad in consolidating its victory over the Islamic state. Coupled with the actual destruction in the area there is still much to be done, as some districts are still completely blocked off due to debris and rubble, while others are only passable because bulldozers have had to be used to open them up.
Not to be overlooked, of course, is the human cost, as many civilians have been killed, injured, or displaced as the devastation to the area has taken their homes, places of work, and loved ones. Isis gunmen have even gone so far as to kill civilians that have tried to escape the fighting in the Old City. The Independent states: “Jasim, 33, a driver living behind Isis lines in the Old City, died when an Isis sniper shot him in the back as he tried to cross the Tigris over a half-destroyed bridge.”
Again, the victory for Iraq is a big one, especially given the humiliating nature of the original loss of Mosul. However, the Islamic State can still very well launch guerrilla attacks throughout the deserts of Iraq and Syria, further threatening the lives of Iraqi soldiers, their weakened military, and of course the lives of those civilians simply trying to live as the horrors of war coalesce around them.
Conor Baker, Caracal Reports