Iraqi forces seek to clear last jihadist pockets in Mosul

Iraqi forces seek to clear last jihadist pockets in Mosul

Iraqi forces seek to clear last jihadist pockets in Mosul

After Abadi spoke, Aridhi said "searching and clearing" still had to be done, but that major operations were finished. So when Iraqi forces finally seized the city, it was only a matter of time before formal victory over IS was declared.

On Sunday, Iraq declared victory in Mosul, as its forces fighted to eliminate the last pockets of ISIS resistance after months of hard battles that have left much of the key northern city in ruins.

Lynn Maalouf, research director for the Middle East at Amnesty, said: "The scale and gravity of the loss of civilian lives during the military operation to retake Mosul must immediately be publicly acknowledged at the highest levels of government in Iraq and states that are part of the US-led coalition".

"Many of the people who are in that situation are too weak even to cross the front line".

The cost of victory has been enormous: much of Mosul in ruins, thousands dead and wounded and almost half the city's population forced from their homes.

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The Iraqi forces took control of eastern Mosul in January after 100 days of fighting, and launched the battle in the west on February 19.

The militants are likely to keep trying to launch attacks on the West and inspiring violence by "lone wolves" or small groups of the kind mounted recently in Britain, France and elsewhere.

Additionally, while the capture of the second-largest city in Iraq is a considerable blow to IS, it does little to eradicate their presence from the region.

He also stressed the need for reconstruction of Mosul city and voiced hope for defeating IS in Syria's Raqqa as well.

Reports of civilian casualties also rose as Iraqi forces punched into Mosul's western half in February.

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The stench of corpses along Mosul's streets was a reminder of the gruelling urban warfare required to dislodge Islamic State.

Soldiers armed with machineguns and sniper rifles fired from atop ruined structures in the Old City, and air strikes sent plumes of smoke rising over Mosul's historic centre.

Last month, as Iraqi troops closed in on the Old City, the militants destroyed the al-Nuri Mosque and its famous leaning minaret to deny the forces a symbolic triumph.

To prevent civilians from evacuating to safety, IS trapped people inside their homes by welding their doors shut, rigging booby traps at exits, and summarily killing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people attempting to escape.

The UN refugee agency said it could be many months before civilians are able to return to their homes.

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"Whatever the military case for the United Kingdom conducting airstrikes on ISIS targets in Mosul, it needs to do this within the parameters of the laws of war - meaning avoiding indiscriminate attacks and ones likely to result in disproportionate civilian deaths and injuries". Close to 700,000 people are still displaced. "The fighting may be over, but the humanitarian crisis is not", said the Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq, Lise Grande. One wiped the sweat from his face with an Islamic State flag.

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