Widespread Congratulations On Liberation Of Mosul, But Fighting Continues

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Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s visit to Mosul yesterday was widely construed as a declaration of victory over ISIL militants in Iraq’s second city. The governments of China and Syria were among those that sent official congratulations.

Abadi’s language was in fact a deal more circumspect, with his office acknowledging that “one or two pockets” of the city remain under ISIL control, and that the PM was there to congratulate the armed forces: “Victory is certain,” he said on arrival at Qayyarah airbase, “and what remains of Daesh [ISIL] is surrounded, and it is just a matter of time for us to announce the great victory to our people.”

What those remains constitute is unclear one day later, with journalists on the frontline reporting continued casualties among the ranks of Iraqi forces.

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The last extremists continue to use civilians as human shields, slowing progress. Lieutenant General Sami al-Aridhi, a senior commander in the elite Counter-Terrorism Service, told AFP: “They do not accept to surrender. They say in a loud voice: ‘We will not surrender, we want to die.’”

Operations, however “are in their final stages,” according to al-Aridhi, and “it is likely that [the fighting] will end today.”

The Prime Minister will declare victory once the last area is completely secured, anticipated later today.

UN representative Lise Grande released a statement yesterday warning that almost 700,000 people remain displaced as a result of the crisis, almost half of whom are living in emergency camps in the height of summer, when temperatures near 50° C.

“Many of the people who have fled have lost everything. They need shelter, food, health care, water, sanitation and emergency kits.” The Humanitarian Response Plan for Iraq is operating on a shortfall of $562 million of the $985 million needed. Grande points out that the liberation of Mosul does not mean the end of ISIL in Iraq.

“The civilians who are trapped in the areas where fighting is likely to occur, including Tal Afar, Hawija and western Anbar, will be at extreme risk. We have to make sure we are ready to help them.”

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