Mosul (IraqiNews.com) Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived in Mosul Sunday and congratulated Iraqi forces and citizens for victory over Islamic State militants who had occupied Iraq’s second largest city for three years.
Abadi’s media office said he congratulated “the heroic fighters and the Iraqi people for the great victory”. State TV aired scenes of the prime minister’s arrival at the operations command’s office in the city in preparation for a press conference.
A few hours earlier, Iraqi government forces advanced in the last few meters held by Islamic State militants in western Mosul.
Shafaaq News website quoted security sources saying the troops took over 50 percent of Qleyat and Shahwan regions, the last remaining areas under IS control near the western bank of the Tigris River which bisects Mosul.
The long-awaited victory in Mosul ends an eight-month campaign backed by a U.S.-led coalition and paramilitary forces which has displaced more than 900.000 civilians. It also means an effective collapse of the Islamic State’s self-styled “caliphate” declared from Mosul’s Old City by the group’s supreme leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Late June, Iraqi forces took over the mosque where Baghdadi made his famous sermon in 2014 declaring the establishment of the group’s rule in Iraq and Syria.
A few other havens remain under Islamic State control in Anbar, Diyala, Salahuddin and Kirkuk, and are marked as next targets for Iraqi government troops.