Mosul victory in ‘next few days’ as ISIL falls back in Syria
MOSUL-Agence France-PresseIraq will declare victory over the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group in Mosul during the “next few days,” a senior commander said on June 30, as the jihadists fell back in neighboring Syria.
ISIL, which declared a cross-border “caliphate” encompassing swathes of Iraq and Syria three years ago, is now facing twin offensives in Mosul and Raqa, its two most emblematic strongholds.
But while the loss of the two cities would be a major blow to ISIL, it would not mark the end of the threat posed by the group, which is likely to return to insurgent-style attacks that were its hallmark in years past.
“In the next few days, we will announce the final victory over Daesh,” Staff Lieutenant General Abdulghani al-Assadi, a senior commander in the elite Counter-Terrorism Service, told AFP in Mosul, using an Arabic acronym for ISIL.
However, there has often been a gap between the declaration of victory and the actual end of fighting in a given area in the course of Iraq’s multi-year war against ISIL.
Iraqi forces launched the grueling battle for Mosul on Oct. 17, advancing to the city and retaking its eastern side before setting their sights on the smaller but more densely populated west.
The jihadists are now confined to a small area of Mosul’s Old City, but its narrow streets and the presence of civilians has made the operation to retake it perilous.
Assadi estimated that there are between 200 and 300 ISIL fighters left in the city, most of them foreigners.
His remarks on victory in Mosul came as ISIL withdrew from a series of villages in Syria’s Aleppo province where President Bashar al-Assad’s forces are advancing.
“ISIL withdrew from 17 towns and villages and is now effectively outside of Aleppo province after having a presence there for four years,” said Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.