Iraqi leader congratulates troops in Mosul; fight goes on

Iraqi leader congratulates troops in Mosul; fight goes on

Iraqi leader congratulates troops in Mosul; fight goes on

Last month, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said the destruction of the ancient mosque in the city of Mosul was "an official declaration of defeat" by IS.

Meanwhile, an airstrike on an ISIS convoy on the outskirts of Tal Afar city, west of Mosul reportedly killed 11 Daesh militants.

Al-Iraqia TV quoted him congratulating "the heroic fighters and the people on the big victory" in Iraq's second-largest city.

When the terror group seized Mosul in June 2014, it also took control of more than 2.5 million people and subjected some to horrors.

Iraqi forces, backed by US-led air strikes, have been battling to retake Mosul since 17 October past year.

Abadi's spokesman, Saad al-Hadithi, said victory would not be formally declared until the few remaining Islamic State militants were cleared from Mosul.

In October, when fighting began, there were roughly 6,000 ISIS militants in Mosul.

Inside IS-held territory, the extremists are using human shields, suicide bombers and snipers in a fight to the death that has slowed recent Iraqi gains to a crawl.

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The group, however, still controls territory in Iraq and is expected to revert to more conventional insurgent tactics such as bombings as its self-proclaimed caliphate falls apart.

Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi visited the city and announced the full liberation of the city from the hands of ISIS, bbc.com reported.

The group has also shot and killed Iraqi residents trying to flee the city according to the United Nations.

He has entered the city and greeted officers at the airfield - after Iraqi forces reached the River Tigris.

Of course, government forces have a couple of times announced imminent victory since the fight for Mosul began in earnest in November.

After three months of an offensive, the troops declared the eastern half of Mosul "liberated" last January.

French President Emmanuel Macron was among the first to hail the victory of Iraqi forces in Mosul on Sunday, praising the fighters - including French troops in the coalition - who had made it possible.

It took tens of thousands of Iraqi forces backed by Western warplanes and special forces almost nine months to defeat the jihadists, who leave behind them a heavily damaged city and exhausted security forces.

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