Iraqi government announces full liberation of Eastern Mosul from ISIS

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Iraqi Security Forces. File photo: Reuters

ARA News 

Erbil – After more than 100 days of heavy urban combat, the Iraqi government of Iraq officially announced the liberation of Eastern Mosul from ISIS

Iraqi forces have been fighting ISIS in Mosul since 17 October, 2016, when they launched a major offensive supported by the US-led coalition.

“I congratulate the Iraqi people on the full liberation of East Mosul, made possible by the courage and sacrifices of our armed forces,” Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Tuesday.

“While clearance operations are ongoing, the Iraqi security forces now control all areas in eastern Mosul city, the east bank of the Tigris River including the five main bridges, Mosul University building and the Nineveh Ruins,” the US-led coalition said in a statement obtained by ARA News.

“During their offensive to liberate the city of more than one million residents held by ISIS for more than two years, the Iraqi security forces and the Kurdish Peshmergas fought through an elaborate defense–formed by ISIS over the past two years to not only keep the Iraqi security forces out, but the residents of Mosul captive,” the coalition said.

“Through it all, the Iraqi security forces displayed their professionalism by placing the lives of citizens before their own and taking precautions to protect the citizens of Mosul while battling a brutal and fanatic enemy,” the coalition added.

ISIS used children and civilians as human shields and used mosques, hospitals and schools as weapons storage facilities and bases for its operations.

“This is a monumental achievement for not only the Iraqi security forces and sovereign government of Iraq, but all Iraqi people,” said Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, the commanding general of Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve, the multi-national counter-ISIS coalition tasked with the military defeat of ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

“This would have been a difficult task for any army in the world. And to see how far the Iraqis have come since 2014, not only militarily, but in their ability to put their differences aside and focus on a common enemy, gives real hope to the people of Iraq that after years of fighting and instability, peace and security are attainable,” said Townsend.

However, the coalition’s top official warned that the battle for Western Mosul might be even tougher than the battle for East Mosul.

“There is still a long way to go before ISIS is completely eliminated from Iraq, and the fight for Western Mosul is likely to be even tougher than the Eastern side,” said Townsend.  “But the ISF [Iraqi Security Forces] have proven they are both a professional and formidable fighting force and I have every confidence that ISIS’s days are numbered in Iraq.”

“The warriors of the Coalition‎ join me in congratulating our comrades in the Iraqi security forces on this achievement and wish them good luck and Allah’s blessings for the fight on the west side that lies ahead,” said Townsend.

Since Oct. 17, 2016, the US-led Coalition has assisted the Iraqi Security Forces with 558 airstrikes using 10,115 munitions against ISIS targets. These munitions have destroyed at least 151 VBIEDs [Vehicle bombs], 361 buildings/facilities, 140 tunnels, 408 vehicles, 392 bunkers, 24 AAA, and 315 artillery/mortar systems.

During the offensive, the ISF fended off an average of five VBIEDs a day, and endured daily mortar and sniper attacks, as well as surveillance and frequent attacks by ISIS unmanned aerial systems dropping grenades on US-backed forces.

Since October 2014, the Coalition has trained more than 50,000 Iraqi fighters and launched more than 17,000 strikes on ISIS targets in support of its partners on the ground.

Reporting by: Wladimir van Wilgenburg | Source: ARA News 

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