Turkey congratulated Iraq yesterday for the successful completion of the military operation against Daesh for the liberation of Mosul. In a statement released by the Foreign Ministry, Turkey welcomed the victory of Iraqi forces over Daesh in Mosul, stressing the importance of reconstruction of the war-torn city.
"On this occasion, we share the sufferings of the people of Mosul, composed of different religious, sectarian and ethnic groups who are among the greatest victims in Iraq of Daesh atrocities, which also targeted our country with its brutal terrorist acts," the statement said.
"We emphasize that, as in the past, Turkey will continue to stand by the people of Mosul in the post-Daesh period. In the upcoming period, we are ready to contribute to the reconstruction efforts of Mosul and to the elimination of the conditions that led to the emergence of Daesh and other radical organizations."
Iraqi forces slowly advanced yesterday to retake the last patch of ground in Mosul where Daesh militants are holding on to a tiny sliver of the Old City, west of the Tigris River, a day after the prime minister visited the soldiers to congratulate troops on the hard-fought battle.
Brig. Gen. Haider Fadhil of the Iraqi special forces said that said even after his men, closely backed by U.S.-led coalition airstrikes, retake the last areas of Daesh control, clearing operations in Mosul will continue to rid the city of sleeper cells and booby-trapped explosives.
Iraqi commanders say they believe hundreds of Daesh fighters remain inside the neighborhood and are using their families — including women and children — as human shields in a fight to the death that has slowed recent Iraqi gains to a crawl.
Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, fell to the Daesh terrorist group in 2014, when its militants blitzed across much of northwestern Iraq and subsequently declared a caliphate on the territory held by extremists in Iraq and Syria. Iraqi forces launched the operation to retake Mosul last October and by late January, the eastern half of the city — which is roughly divided by the Tigris onto a western and eastern section — was declared liberated. The push into western Mosul began the following month and in June, Iraqi forces started the weeks-long push through the Old City, Mosul's most congested district. On Sunday, Iraqi soldiers celebrated recent gains, though Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi stopped short of declaring an outright victory. On his visit to Mosul, al-Abadi met field commanders, kissed babies and toured a reopened market. But airstrikes and sniper fire continued amid the revelry as the extremists stubbornly held on to a small area in the Old City. Over the nearly nine-month campaign, Iraqi forces have reduced the Daesh hold on Mosul to less than a square kilometer (less than a mile) of territory.
"We are glad to see normal life return for the citizens," al-Abadi said, according to a statement from his office. "This is the result of the sacrifices of the [country's] heroic fighters."
The fierce battle for Mosul has killed thousands and displaced more than 897,000 people. Last month, as Iraqi troops closed in on the Old City, the militants destroyed the al-Nuri Mosque and its famous leaning minaret to deny the Iraqi forces a symbolic triumph.