After the liberation of one of the last Islamic State group strongholds — the Iraqi city of Mosul — President Donald Trump celebrated the major victory for coalition forces and vowed to “continue to seek the total destruction of ISIS.”
According to Fox News, Iraq declared on Monday that its forces had achieved “total victory” over the Islamic State fighters in the ancient city.
“This great feast day crowned the victories of the fighters and the Iraqis for the past three years,” Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said in a statement with some of his top military men outside of Mosul’s Old City, where much of the fighting had taken place.
After a nine-month siege of the city, Iraqi troops finally made their way through the Old City in a slog that involved “punching holes through walls and demolishing houses to carve supply routes and fighting positions,” Fox News reported.
On the same day that Iraq declared victory over the Islamic State group forces in Mosul, Trump issued a statement warning the Islamic State that its days were numbered.
“We mourn the thousands of Iraqis brutally killed by ISIS and the millions of Iraqis who suffered at the hands of ISIS. We grieve with the Iraqi people for the loss of the heroic soldiers and Peshmerga who gave their lives to restore life to their country, and we honor their sacrifice,” Trump said in the statement, according to The Daily Caller.
“We in the United States and the Global Coalition are proud to stand with the Iraqi Security Forces and all those who made this moment of liberation possible,” he added. And then, he called out the rest of the terrorist organization.”
“We have made tremendous progress against ISIS — more in the past 6 months than in the years since ISIS became a major threat,” the statement continued.
“The victory in Mosul, a city where ISIS once proclaimed its so-called ‘caliphate,’ signals that its days in Iraq and Syria are numbered. We will continue to seek the total destruction of ISIS.”
And that destruction is coming largely thanks to the Trump administration’s changed approach toward dealing with the terrorist threat.
While the Obama administration feuded with the Iraqi government and took a piecemeal approach to the war on terror, Trump and Defense Secretary James Mattis have adopted a strategy of annihilation against the terrorist fighters that’s proved itself in the Mosul campaign.
The Iraqi forces did the bulk of the fighting, but it was Trump and Mattis’ strategy and support for them that paid off with the Mosul victory.
Mosul was one of the two largest strongholds left in the war against the Islamic State group — the other being Raqqa in Syria, the de facto “capital” of the terrorist organization. However, even after retaking Mosul, the battle is still not over.
“We all know that ISIS hides among civilian populations and ISIS will be counting on sympathies among certain individuals in the civilian population to operate an insurgency,” Lina Khatib, leader of the Middle East and North Africa Program with Chatham House in London, told CNN.
“So it is very important for Iraqi officials to gain the trust of the civilian population to make sure this doesn’t happen.”
Nevertheless, Mosul is out from under Islamic State group control for the first time since 2014, and that’s something to celebrate. The city stands in ruins; it will need to be rebuilt.
There will be terrorists remaining within its walls; they will need to be captured. For now, Iraqi forces, the Trump administration and their allies have accomplished a significant feat: removing the yoke of Islamist control from the people of Mosul.
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