The capture of the al-Nuri mosque was a symbolic victory in the liberation of Mosul and the defeat of ISIS’ capital in Iraq. After three years of atrocities, it was fitting that ISIS will end where it started, at the al-Nuri mosque. With only 300 ISIS operatives left in the city, Iraqi troops are carrying out mop-up operations. As the troops move through the city, they encounter destroyed buildings and the stench of rotting corpses. The vacuum ISIS is leaving must be filled if peace is truly to be restored in Iraq. The journey to rebuilding will be difficult but this war-torn country yearns for rest.
07/01/2017 Iraq (ABC News) – Iraqi troops were clearing up a key neighborhood in Mosul on Friday, commanders said, a day after making significant gains against Islamic State militants in the city and after the country’s prime minister declared an end to the extremist group’s self-proclaimed caliphate.
Lt. Gen. Abdul Wahab al-Saadi and Lt. Col. Salam Hussein told The Associated Press that their forces were moving into territory previously held by IS in the Old City after capturing the hugely symbolic al-Nuri Mosque on Thursday, following a dawn push into the Mosul neighborhood.
Al-Saadi said his forces were also continuing to push forward from the Old City and on Friday reached within 700 meters (766 yards) of the Tigris River, which divides Mosul roughly into an eastern and western half.
The mosque and its famed 12th century minaret were blown up by IS last week — an indication, the Iraqi government said, of the militants’ imminent loss of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city.
Later Thursday, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced that the full liberation of the city is near and that Iraq’s “brave forces will bring victory.”
The operation to retake Mosul, closely backed by the U.S.-led coalition, was launched in October, with the Iraqi government initially pledging the city would be liberated in 2016.
But instead, it has been a long and deadly fight — eight months on, IS holds less than two square kilometers (0.8 square miles) of the city. Clashes have displaced more than 850,000 people, according to the International Organization for Migration.