Thursday June 29, 2017
With the recapture of al-Nuri Mosque in the heart of West Mosul (Old City), the Iraqi army has all but completed the liberation of Mosul, the self-proclaimed seat of government of the terrorist outfit, Daesh/ISIS and its command centre.
“Their fictitious state has fallen,” an Iraqi military spokesman, Brigadier General Yahya Rasool, told state TV today (Thursday June 29).
It was from the minbar of this mosque that the US-Zionist-Saudi-backed self-proclaimed Khalifah Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi (real name Ibrahim al-Samarrai) made his announcement and declared the so-called Khilafah in 2014.
The terrorist outfit had made its entry into the city after driving through open desert in brand new Toyota pick-up trucks—where did they get hundreds of such trucks?—in June 2014. American air force planes were operating over Iraqi skies but made no attempt to stop these terrorists.
The Iraqi army said it was continuing mopping up operations to cleanse Mosul’s Old City of any remaining terrorists holed up in isolated pockets.
On June 21, there was a huge explosion at the mosque damaging much of it as well as its iconic leaning minaret. The Daesh terrorists accused the US of dropping a bomb on the mosque; the Iraqi army said the terrorists had blown it up. They interpreted this as a sign of the terrorists’ imminent loss of Mosul.
Yesterday (June 28), Federal Police Forces Commander Lieutenant General Shaker Jawdat said security forces were moving through al-Farouq district and advancing towards Bab al-Toub, Serjkhana, Bab al-Jadid and Bab al-Lakash areas in the heart of Mosul’s Old City.
Expressing optimism but without exaggeration as is the wont of generals on the battlefield, he said government forces were in control of more than 70 percent of Daesh’s last bastion in West Mosul. General Jawdat further noted that the army was engaged in fierce battles with an estimated 300 Daesh terrorists in the Old City.
Iraqi forces launched their campaign to liberate Mosul nine months ago. The eastern part was liberated last January. The campaign to liberate the western (older) part was launched on February 19. Progress has been slow because of narrow alleys and warrens as well as the fact that the terrorists have used civilians as human shields.
Iraqi government sources say an estimated 862,000 people have been displaced from Mosul since the battle to retake the city began nine months ago. However, a total of 195,000 civilians have returned to their homes in the liberated areas, especially in eastern Mosul.
With the terrorists on the run in Syria as well, their area of operations is fast shrinking. There are reports that Americans are using vehicles and helicopters to evacuate the terrorists from places like Raqqa in Syria to Nangarhar province in Afghanistan.
The Americans cannot do the same in Mosul because of the presence of Iraqi army troops as well as Iran-backed militias. Besides, Mosul is a closed area, unlike Raqqa that is wide open with insignificant presence of Syria government forces or allied militias.
In another development, the Russian Defence Ministry announced on June 16 that they were pretty certain they had killed Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in a bombing operation in Raqqa. The Russians said they had bombed a meeting of takfiri terrorists on the night of May 28 at which some 30 senior commanders and a large number of fighters were present.
The Russian Defence Ministry claimed 30 senior commanders including al Baghdadi and nearly 300 fighters were killed.
If true, this would signal the beginning of the end of the terrorist nightmare that has plagued the region for so many years. Al Baghdadi was known to be hiding in Ba’aj in Iraq since the Iraqi army besieged Mosul.
While there is no independent confirmation of al Baghdadi’s death, the terrorists’ territorial base is rapidly shrinking both in Syria and Iraq.