Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory in the “liberated” city of Mosul on Sunday, his office said, after a gruelling nearly nine-month battle against the Islamic state group.
Abadi “arrives in the liberated city of Mosul and congratulates the heroic fighters and the Iraqi people on the achievement of the major victory,” his office said in a statement.
On Saturday, the militarised Federal Police announced that they had cleared their assigned sector, while the regular army and special forces continued to battle the extremists. Some units remain up to 150 meters (yards) from the river.
The operation to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, began in October. The battle for the Old City, with its narrow alleyways and dense population, has been among the most brutal of the offensive.
IS seized Mosul in the summer of 2014 when it swept across northern and central Iraq. That summer the group’s leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, made his first and only public appearance at the al-Nuri mosque in Mosul’s Old City. The militants destroyed the mosque and its famed minaret as Iraqi forces closed in last month.