Iraq’s Victory in Mosul: The Turning Point in the Fight against Terrorism

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The Islamic State, ISIL (also known as ISIS or Daesh) seized Iraq’s second-largest city Mosul in 2014, it foreshadowed a period of unimaginable terror and destruction. The Battle of Mosul was a major counter-terrorism action initiated by the Iraqi Government forces with allied militias, the Kurdistan Regional Government, and global forces to retake the city of Mosul from the Islamic State which had taken the city years prior in June of 2014.  It was the most extensive conventional land battle since the seizure of Baghdad in 2003, it was also the world’s single largest military process overall since the 2003 invasion of Iraq and was deemed the toughest urban battle since World War II.

The operation, which was named Operation “We Are Coming, Nineveh” started on 16 October 2016, with forces surrounding ISIL-controlled areas in the Nineveh Governorate surrounding Mosul, and persisted with Iraqi troops and Peshmerga fighters confronting ISIL on three fronts outside Mosul, moving from village to village in the surrounding area in the biggest deployment of Iraqi troops since the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

On 16 October 2016, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the commencement of the assault to recapture the city of Mosul. The main attack began on 17 October at approximately 6 a.m., local time, with shelling and the appearance of armoured vehicles on the front lines.

On the morning of 1 November 2016, Iraqi Special Operations Forces penetrated the city from the east. Met with intense fighting, the government’s advancement into the city was slowed by elaborate defences and by the presence of civilians, but Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi expressed “full liberation of the eastern side of Mosul” on 24 January 2017. Iraqi troops formed their offensive to recapture western Mosul on 19 February 2017.

In the weeks leading up to the land offensive, the U.S.-led CJTF–OIR coalition attacked ISIL targets, and the Iraqi Army made incremental advances on the city. Royal Air Force’s Reaper drones, Hurricanes, and Tornados hit “rocket launchers, ammunition reserves, artillery pieces and mortar positions” in the 72 hours before the ground assault started. Leaflets fell on the city by the Iraqi military advised young male citizens to “rise” against ISIL when the battle started. Iraqi forces persisted in their advance on 1 January 2017, seizing a part of the Karama district, carrying near complete control of the Intissar and Siha districts, and emptying the Salam district. 

The CTS connected with the Rapid Response Division during the day at the border of al-Intissar and al-Quds, capturing more than 60 per cent of east Mosul. Later that day, Iraqi forces seized the Yunus al-Sabaawi and Yafa districts in the southeastern part of the city and also completely grasped al-Intissar, as well as the neighbourhoods of al-Malayeen, al-Kindi, and al-Arabi al-Thania.

On 22 July, Iraqi security forces captured ISIL’s minister of agriculture, Falah Rashid, in western Mosul. Four police officers, including a lieutenant general, were killed at the al-Maash market after fighting with ISIL militants on 25 July. An ISIL senior leader who carried the post of “tribal affairs bureau for southern Mosul” was captured in eastern Mosul while travelling the Tigris River carrying a fake ID. Meanwhile, many news outlets conveyed the end of the battle during the mid-to-late-July duration, with the focus of Iraqi forces now being tracking down surviving militants, and clearing explosives.

The Sudan Tribune wrote on 5 August that Ali Abdel-Ma’arouf (aka Abu al-Asbat Al-Sudani), a Sudanese citizen, who was the ISIL leader of prisons and a top legislator, was eradicated during clearing operations in Mosul. On 8 August, a security source expressed that ISF in coordination with the Nineveh police, had captured Ahmed Sabhan Abdel Wahid al-Dulaimi, a senior ISIL intelligence official, in east Mosul. On 9 July 2017, the Iraqi Prime Minister reached Mosul to announce the triumph over ISIL, and an official declaration of victory was announced on 10 July.

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