Toronto - Falling just short of declaring outright victory in Mosul, Iraq’s Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, stopped by a mosque on Sunday to congratulate Iraqi forces on “liberating” the city after nine months of vicious fighting.
Toronto – Falling just short of declaring outright victory in Mosul, Iraq’s Prime Minister, Haider al-Abadi, stopped by a mosque on Sunday to congratulate Iraqi forces on “liberating” the city after nine months of vicious fighting.
ISIS militants are said to have had their territory shrunk to an area measuring just 180m by 45m inside Mosul’s Old City. The few dozen fighters left, however, are putting up a fierce, suicide-or-bust defense.
According to Al-Abadi, “The remnants of Daesh are besieged in a few inches.” He expressed his deep appreciation to his troops for their “heroic” determination to “put an end to the myth of Daesh for good.”
Referring to the remaining fighters, Al-Abadi gave them two choices, “to surrender or to be killed.”
The battle for Mosul has taken nine months and cost the city and its civilians dearly. Thousands of buildings have been destroyed or nearly destroyed and more than 920,000 civilians have been displaced.
According to Iraqi military officials, most of the civilians left are thought to be family members of the militants, used as human shields.
Addressing the humanitarian cost of the battle for Mosul, the United Nation’s Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq, Lise Grande, said “Many of the people who have fled have lost everything. They need shelter, food, health care, water, sanitation and emergency kits. The levels of trauma we are seeing are some of the highest anywhere. What people have experienced is nearly unimaginable.”
Al Jazeera’s, Charles Stratford, calls the situation “absolutely dire,” adding that the “level of destruction in the Old City is almost total.”
“Virtually every single building is either completely or partially reduced to rubble,” he said.
Michael Boyce, humanitarian policy adviser from Oxfam in Iraq, explains that, for the remaining civilians trapped in Mosul, “have literally been through hell,” having been deprived of every basic human need including food, water and medical attention.
Mosul was overrun by ISIS in June of 2014. Just one month later, in July, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was triumphantly declaring the creation of a “caliphate.”
Almost exactly three years later, the cost to rebuild the city is astronomical, estimated at more than a billion dollars for basic infrastructure alone. Virtually every part of the city has suffered extensive damage with experts predicting the overall reconstruction to cost somewhere in the neighbourhood of several billion dollars.
According to the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), it is a financial burden the international community should shoulder together.
“People from every ethnic, religious and socio-economic group in Iraq have sufferedas a result of this conflict… It is the responsibility of the international community now to help them rebuild their country and repair the divisions that helped to create the conflict in the first place.”