Days of ISIS are numbered, says UN envoy for Iraq

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Militant fighters of the Islamic State (ISIS) stand guard at a checkpoint in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul. File photo

Geneva (UN) – The military campaign to oust Islamic State (ISIS) terrorists from Iraq is nearly won, the humanitarian crisis is expected to continue for months, if not years, the United Nations top official for the country said on Thursday.

“Three months after the Mosul military operation started, combat operations in the eastern part of Mosul have come to an end,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Iraq, Ján Kubiš, told the UN Security Council during a briefing.

He said that the Iraqi forces, with significant support from its international partners, especially the United States, will remain engaged in complex urban operations, in particular inside the old city in western Mosul.

“Yet, in the rather short foreseeable future, the liberation operations in Iraq are coming to an end – the days of the so-called ISIS in Iraq are counted,” added Mr Kubiš, who is also the head of the UN Assistance Mission for Iraq (UNAMI).

According to an advance summary of the 2017 Humanitarian Response Plan submitted by relief aid partners in December, at least $985 million is required this year to reach the 5.8 million most vulnerable Iraqis. Of this, $331 million is being sought specifically for the Mosul response.

Already a lot is being done. Over 1.4 million displaced Iraqis have returned to their homes, including one million in the past 12 months.

“In the post-ISIS period, Iraq will need continuous, substantial and sustainable support and assistance from the international community, including its regional partners,” he stressed, warning that any abrupt scaling-down of engagement or support would mean repeating mistakes of the past – mistakes that have had grave consequences for stability and security, well beyond the borders of Iraq, even globally.

“The protection of civilians, the avoidance of steps that could incite sectarian tensions, and the prevention of looting and revenge attacks in Mosul and other liberated areas of the country “constitute first steps in the process of national and community-based reconciliation, in building a new and truly unified Iraq,” the UN official said.

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