|Part of Battle of Mosul (2016–2017)|
|Date||21 July 2017|
Part of a series on the
|History of Iraq|
Mosul liberation refers to the victory of a major military campaign launched by the Iraqi Army and the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces in October 2016 to liberate the city of Mosul from the control of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi officially announced the liberation of the city on 10 July 2017, though heavy fighting and resistance persisted until 21 July. The Islamic State took control of the city in June 2014. During their three-year reign, they committed many atrocities.
Mosul, Iraq's second largest city, is the capital of Nineveh Governorate in northwestern Iraq and surrounds the ancient Assyrian city of Nineveh. The city used to be one of the most "enlightened cities" in the Middle East hosting one of the largest educational and research centers in Iraq and the region. It also contained ancient buildings, some dating back to the 13th century such as the Great Mosque and the Red Mosque, Muslim shrines and several churches, in addition to mausoleums.
Mosul played a key role in ISIS becoming a legitimate threat in the region and drawing recruits from abroad. It was there that, in July 2014, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made a rare public appearance to pronounce the group's "caliphate" in Iraq and Syria at the site of the 12th century Great Mosque of al-Nuri.
The original population of 2.5 million fell to approximately 1.5 million after two years of ISIL rule. The city was once extremely diverse, with ethnic minorities including Armenians, Yazidis, Assyrian, Turkmen, and Shabak people, all of whom suffered considerably under the (majority Sunni Arab) Islamic State. Mosul had witnessed an earlier period of Sunni extremism in the last days of Saddam Hussein. The city was the last stronghold of ISIL in Iraq, ISIS massacred hundreds who attempted to flee the city in an attempt to deter others from doing the same.
The anticipated offensive by the Iraqi army and allied forces to reclaim the city was promoted as the "mother of all battles". The final push to retake Mosul began in October 2016, when pro-government forces — from the Iraqi Security Forces to Peshmerga fighters and Popular Mobilization Forces — began massing near the city. The U.S. and its allies provided advisers, including Green Berets, in addition to airstrikes in support of the effort. However, the Iraqi prime minister denied that foreign forces had a role in liberation of the city. After eight months of difficult urban warfare, Iraqi military forces on June 29 captured the Mosul mosque at the heart of the strategic northern city, which Daesh had declared its de facto capital. Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend, US commander of the coalition, has described the campaign to liberate Mosul as the toughest urban warfare he has seen in 34 years of service.
Fighting was still being reported in part of the northern city on the Tigris River after the declaration by the Iraqi prime minister. "They're now in one particular neighborhood, where the last pockets of ISIS fighters are fighting very hard. It's really their last stand," NPR's Jane Arraf reports from Mosul. "The problem is, there are civilians among them, still at least 2,000 civilians."
Cornered in a shrinking area, the militants resorted to sending women suicide bombers among the thousands of civilians who are emerging from the battlefield wounded, malnourished and fearful, Iraqi army officers said. The struggle has also exacted a heavy toll on Iraq’s security forces. Meantime, the Iraqi people celebrated the liberation of the embattled city of Mosul in the capital of Baghdad on Sunday evening. Earlier on Sunday, spokesman for the Iraqi Joint Operations Command, Brigadier General Yahia Rasoul, told state-run al-Iraqiya television network that soldiers from the Nineveh Liberation Operation had killed 30 militants attempting to get away by swimming across the Tigris.
Clashes persisted into 18 July, with a civilian being killed in a firefight in the Old City, near the Tigris River.
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived in Mosul Sunday and congratulated "the heroic fighters and the Iraqi people" for their "great victory" over Daesh (ISIL or ISIS) after nearly nine months of urban warfare. The defeat in the city is considered a major blow for ISIS, which is also losing ground in its operational base in the Syrian city of Raqqa from where it has planned global attacks. State television later showed Abadi touring Mosul on foot alongside residents of Iraq's second-largest city. Airstrikes and exchanges of gunfire could still be heard in the narrow streets of the Old City, where the terror group has staged its last stand against Iraqi forces. The recapture of Mosul would mark the effective end of Daesh in Iraq.
The formal declaration of victory came a day later as part of a statement by al-Abadi aired by the state television on Monday.
I announce from here the end and the failure and the collapse of the terrorist state of falsehood and terrorism, which the terrorist Daesh announced from Mosul. It was due to the Iraqi nation’s united front and sacrifice that we are now celebrating the victory over Daesh. This is the victory over darkness and terrorism.
Asserting that the Iraqi nation is now more united than ever, the Iraqi premier noted, "I hereby pay homage to Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and his historic fatwa, calling on all Iraqi citizens to defend their country. I also pay tribute to all Iraqi fighters and soldiers, who played a role in this battle and the families of the martyrs." Abadi emphasized that the Iraqi soldiers were the sole force on the ground and there were no foreigners involved in liberation of Mosul.
After the declaration the troops are reported to have been still dealing with explosives and mines in the city, Abadi's office says. The prime minister says officials will now work to restore services and infrastructure, stressing the importance of allowing residents to return to normal lives.
The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said on Monday that it could take many months before civilians are able to return to their homes. “It is likely that thousands of people may have to remain in displacement for months to come,” the UNHCR said in a statement. The UN refugee agency noted, “Many have nothing to go back to due to extensive damage caused during the conflict, while key basic services such as water, electricity and other key infrastructure, including schools and hospitals, will need to be rebuilt or repaired.” Additionally, twenty-eight aid groups working in Iraq have issued a statement, calling for international support for the reconstruction of Mosul and urged Iraqi authorities not to press civilians to return.
As of July 13, Residents of Mosul have started returning to the city in search of the dead bodies of their relatives and friends who had fallen victims to Iraqi artillery and US airstrikes, days after Iraq formally announced the liberation of the city. According to a report by AFP, the displaced residents are trying to cross roadblocks to return to their neighborhoods, but access to Mosul’s Old City remains near-impossible, where demining operations continue.
On 17 July, clashes continued in Mosul's Old City. An Iraqi soldier was killed and another was wounded in the Shahwan neighborhood, with four ISIL tunnels destroyed, as clearing operations continued.
According to Iraqi sources, government authorities are planning a week of jubilation across the country after the formal declaration of victory in Mosul. As the Iraqi army was eliminating the remaining ISIS forces, the Iraqi people celebrated the liberation of the embattled city of Mosul in the capital of Baghdad on Sunday evening.
On July 15, Iraq celebrated the liberation of Mosul with a military parade attended by Iraq's Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. Army, police and fighters from the Popular Mobilization Units, took part in the parade in the capital Baghdad.
Following the Iraqi victory over ISIS, the secretary general of the Lebanese Hezbollah resistance movement said the US created the Daesh terrorists and gave regional states the green light to fund and support the Takfiri militant group.
At a cultural ceremony in Tehran on Monday, General Qasem Soleimani, commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Quds Force, said that humanity owes a great deal to the Iraqi and Syrian nations for their victories in the fight against terrorism. “Those who believed that it (the conflicts in Iraq and Syria) is a sedition involving Shiites and Sunnis and that Iran would be brought to its knees, themselves faced terrible incidents,” General Soleimani added. He further lauded the Iraqi religious authorities, particularly top Shiite cleric Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, for taking a leading role in the formation of the Popular Mobilization Units, also known as Hashd al-Shaabi, which resulted in successive victories against Daesh and the recapture of Mosul.
Chief of Staff of the Iranian Armed Forces Major General Mohammad Bagheri and Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehghan sent congratulatory messages to top Iraqi military officials. In his message to the Iraqi prime minister, Ebadi, Iran’s Major General Baqeri described the liberation of Mosul as the manifestation of national unity and resistance, expressing confidence that close cooperation between the armed forces of Iran and Iraq would foil the plots by the “hegemonic and trans-regional powers and enemies of the Islamic community.” In the message to Hadi Al-Amiri, the senior Iranian general hailed Mosul liberation as a result of “historic acts of devotion” by the Hashd al-Shaabi forces, stressing the need for plans to maintain and strengthen the Popular Mobilization Units for the sake of Iraq’s future. In another message to the Iraqi defense minister, the Iranian commander said the operation in Mosul marked a great victory against the Takfiri terrorists, the Zionist regime of Israel, and the regional reactionary regimes. Separately, Iran’s Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan congratulated his Iraqi counterpart and Hadi al-Ameri on the liberation of Mosul. “This great victory which foiled the plots by the US and the usurping Zionist regime (of Israel) in Iraq will lead to the complete defeat of the strategy of proxy war waged by the hegemony in the region, God willing,” Dehqan said in the message to his Iraqi counterpart.