Capture of Mosul: In the biggest blow to ISIS, the Iraqi forces have effectively captured Mosul, the northern Iraqi city which the terror group brandished as one of its biggest stepping stones to realise its dream of setting up an Islamic caliphate. Its defeat in Mosul, hence, is a major blow to the hardline Sunni Islamist terrorist group, which is also losing ground in its operational base in the Syrian city of Raqqa, from where it has planned attacks across the world.
Mosul is Iraq’s second-largest city located on the banks of river Tigris in the country’s Nineveh province. Around 1 million people are still estimated to be living in the city, comprising of diverse ethnic groups with Sunni Arabs and Kurds in majority. Mosul is also the main industrial city in northern Iraq and an important transportation hub for the flow of goods from Turkey and Syria. The city also has important oilfields of northern Iraq and a major oil pipeline into Turkey, according to agencies.
The Islamic State had surprised the world after capturing Mosul in June 2014 within a few days after Iraqi security forces retreated from the city. According to ABC News, the American officials had then blamed the retreat on Sunni Arab soldiers and local police in the city, who had abandoned their posts after growing “disenchantment” with increasing sectarianism of the Shiite government headed by then Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.
The ISIS terrorists had captured a large part of Iraqi military equipment and supplies and also seized around $500 million in cash from Mosul Central Bank.
The capture of Mosul was just not a big blow to Iraq but also a coup for the terror group’s propaganda to establish an Islamic caliphate.
The re-capture of the city by Iraqi forces would mean an end to ISIS’ strategic stronghold in Iraq. The terror group is also on the backfoot in Syria. Moreover, the loss of Mosul would cut-off the route for its terrorists from its de-facto capital of Raqqa is Syria.
On Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived in Mosul and congratulated the armed forces for their “victory” over Islamic State after around nine months of the war, reported Reuters.
This is, however, not the end of ISIS in Iraq. The terror group still controls territory in Iraq. According to Reuters, ISIS is now expected to “revert to more conventional insurgent tactics such as bombings as its self-proclaimed caliphate falls apart.”
The three-year battle for Mosul killed thousands and displaced around one million people.
What it means for Iraq
According to Reuters, Iraq is still facing uncertainty and long-term stability in the country will be possible only if the government contains ethnic and sectarian tensions which have hit the country hard since the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The loss of Mosul to ISIS three years ago had exposed the steep difference between Sunni Arabs and Kurds over disputed territories, and between Sunnis and the Shi’ite majority. ISIS has still vowed to fight until death for Mosul, according to Reuters.