Iraq PM declares victory in 'liberated' Mosul

Alice Martins  for The Washington Post Amid the constant presence of rubble a Syrian Democratic Forces soldier watches over Raqqa from a rooftop

Tens of thousands of army, police and counter-terrorism troops are thrown into the long-awaited offensive with air and ground support from a US-led coalition.

In two weeks dozens of surrounding localities are recaptured, including the Christian town of Qaraqosh around 15 kilometres (nine miles) from Mosul. IS now controls less than a square kilometer (mile) of territory in Mosul's Old City, but is using human shields, suicide bombers and snipers in a fight to the death. It declares al-Baghdadi as the leader of the new caliphate.

In February, they launched the second phase of the military operation on the west side of the city.

Last month, as Iraqi troops closed in on the Old City, the militants destroyed the al-Nuri Mosque and its famous leaning minaret to deny the forces a symbolic triumph.

- January 24: The Joint Operations Command coordinating the fight says the east has been "fully liberated".

Still, France and Britain, members of the coalition that has conducted air strikes and provided training and assistance to Iraqi forces on the battlefield, welcomed the defeat.




Late on Saturday, Iraqi state media said government forces are fighting for the "last metres" of territory in the city adding it is a "matter of hours".

Officials have made similar pronouncements of victory being imminent over the past week, but progress appears to have slowed in recent days with ISIL fighters placing booby traps and bombs to block advancing troops. The latest truce is meant to allay concerns of neighbouring Israel and Jordan about Iranian-backed and government-allied forces at their borders.

The government announced the full "liberation" of eastern Mosul in January, but the west of the city has presented a more hard challenge, with its narrow, winding streets.

Around 915,000 residents have fled Mosul since the start of the battle for the city in October, the United Nations said this week.

Iraqi forces, backed by US-led air strikes, have been battling to retake Mosul since 17 October a year ago.

Of course, government forces have a few times announced imminent victory since the fight for Mosul began in earnest in November.

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