The global coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria has offered its congratulations to Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and the Iraqi security forces on their historic victory against an evil enemy, the commander of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve told Pentagon reporters today.
“The Iraqis prevailed in the most extended and brutal combat I have ever witnessed, while making extraordinary efforts to safeguard civilian lives, even at the cost of their own,” he said. “The list of martyrs is painfully long.”
ISIS Lost Largest ‘Capital’
The OIR commander noted when ISIS lost Mosul, it lost its capital in Iraq and the largest population center they held anywhere in the world.
“Iraqi militia forces, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters, and the global coalition also deserve a share of the credit for their sacrifices to achieve this hard-won victory,” Townsend said.
But Iraq’s victory does not eliminate the presence of ISIS, he cautioned, adding that tough fighting against the rogue terrorists remains.
“There are still pockets of resistance in Mosul, hold-outs, and hidden [improvised explosive devices] that will take weeks to clear, as well as remaining ISIS enclaves [in places such as] western Anbar,” Townsend said.
Additionally, humanitarian and stabilization efforts are desperately needed to ease the suffering of Mosul citizens and start the city on the road to recovery, he said. “Though the Moslawis have suffered greatly, the east side is already springing back to life less than six months after its liberation. And Moslawis have already started to return to their neighborhoods in the west.”
But still, he added, the loss of one of ISIS’ twin capitals and a jewel of their so-called caliphate is a decisive blow to ISIS and certainly something for the Iraqis to celebrate.