Iraqi forces are flushing last ISIS fighters out of hiding in Mosul a day after city was declared liberated from terror group.Half-naked fighters were paraded through streets while others were bundled out of an armoured vehicle.
ISIS admits leader died in airstrike
SIS has finally admitted it s leader Abu Bakr alBaghdadi is dead, according to reports in Iraq. Terror group is said to have confirmed that 45-year-old was killed in an air strike in the Iraqi province of Nineveh.Reports claim ISIS fanatics are scrambling to find a successor to terror chief, who announced the formation of the group’s so-called caliphate in Mosul in 2014.A ban on jihadis talking about the leader’s death has now been lifted, according to a source who said to Iraqi media.If confirmed, his death would mark another devastating blow to jihadist group after its loss of Mosul.
‘They’re going to have to reach out and reconcile with Sunni population, and make them feel like their government in Baghdad represents them.’His sentiments were echoed by one diplomat in Washington who spoke anonymously to Reuters ahead of a meeting of 72 nations this week to discuss how world moves forward in Middle East.’I think everyone has learnt hard way that unless you stick around and get the job done, we will be back there again in 10 years’ time,’ the diplomat told.Their warnings came as ISIS fighters fleeing Mosul captured village of Imam Gharbi, to the south, deploying guerrilla-style tactics. Militants armed with machine guns and mortars have now seized more than 75 % of the village, located on western bank of the Tigris river some 44 miles south of Mosul, and reinforcements are expected, the Iraqi army told.Islamic State launched its attack on Imam Gharbi last week, in kind of strike it is expected to deploy now as U.S.-backed Iraqi forces regain control over cities the group captured during its shock 2014 offensive.
Lieutenant General Stephen Townsend (left) has hailed an ‘historic’ victory over ISIS in Mosul, but says terror group will renew itself if the government fails to reach out to Sunni Muslims
Islamic State also faces pressure in its operational base in Syrian city of Raqqa, where U.S.-backed Syrian Kurdish and Arab forces have seized territory on three sides of city. Campaign to retake Mosul from militants was launched last October by a 100,000-strong alliance of Iraqi government units, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shi’ite militias, with a U.S.-led coalition providing key air and ground support.Abadi’s government in Iraq now faces a difficult task managing sectarian tensions which enabled Islamic State to gain supporters in country among fellow Sunnis who say they were marginalised by the Shi’ite-led government. Shia Muslims make up about 65 % of Iraq’s population, with Sunni Muslims making up about half that number.While Sunnis held almost all positions of power in Saddam Hussein’s Ba’ath Party, since his execution they have complained of being sidelined by Shia majority government in Baghdad.
Bruce Hoffman, a security expert at Georgetown University, in Wasington DC, toldthat feeling is likely to be exacerbated now ISIS has been displaced.The majority of fighting in Iraq has been focused on Sunni population centres such as Mosul, Fallujah and Ramadi which now lie in ruins.’It’s almost at a new level of divisiveness and an unrelenting decade of bloodletting has made any sense of rebuilding a civil society unbelievably challenging,’ Hoffman told.With Mosul now gone and battle to retake Raqqa well underway, age of ISIS as a territorial power is almost over, but the group is far from dead and buried.
Firepower used in Mosul was ‘excessive’
Iraqi and coalition forces fighting ISIS in Mosul have been accused of using unnecessarily powerful weapons in civilians areas.An Amnesty International report accuses coalition forces of using ‘imprecise weapons with wide-area effects’ even when became clear ISIS was using civilians as human shields.While report notes that ISIS is also responsible for serious abuses, it told that does not excuse opposition forces for killing what it calls a ‘huge number’ of innocent civilians.Report’s authors are calling for an investigation into the number of civilians killed by government fighters.
Instead it is seeking out unstable regions of world ,such as north and central Africa and Philippines, in which to establish new frontlines.Colin Clark, an analyst with RAND think tank, told : ‘They [ISIS] are going to seek out these weak states. They are going to insinuate themselves in local conflicts.’ And while its so called Caliphate may be no more, its presence in Middle East as a guerrilla organisation will continue for some time.This much was evident with a series of devastating bomb attacks across region during Ramadan including an attack on an ice cream shop in Baghdad, Iraq.Another huge truck bomb stuck German embassy in Kabul, killing 90 and wounding hundreds more, though no group claimed responsibility. ISIS and al-Qaeda have been active in city. Washington meetings Tuesday through Thursday will focus on ways to intensify a multi-pronged campaign against Islamic State, according to State Department. That campaign and overall military strategy were set under Trump’s predecessor, U.S. President Barack Obama.Trump’s post-conflict strategy, as described by U.S. officials, follows 2 tracks.
United States, they say, will support a robust Iraqi and United Nations-led effort to stabilize liberated areas in Iraq, where American officials say they have a reliable partner in Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi.
Amid Syria’s ongoing civil war, Washington is pursuing a more cautious, localized stabilization plan.Initial stabilization efforts are already underway in eastern Mosul, but officials told western part of the city, where fighting was more intense, will be the greater challenge.Nearly 1 million civilians fled the city, according to United Nations. ‘This was beyond our worst case scenario and we’re still one step ahead,’ thanks to $1 billion in funding pledged last year, told Lise Grande, U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for Iraq.Across Iraq, 1.9 million people have returned home, Grande told, adding ‘I’m not sure you would have bet on this.’Top Trump aides, including national security adviser H.R. McMaster and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, commanded U.S. troops in Iraq and remain committed to country’s security, diplomats and analysts told.
TIMELINE: RISE AND FALL OF ISIS
Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, leader of al-Qaida’s branch in Iraq, announces merger of his Islamic State of Iraq with al-Qaida’s franchise in Syria, forming the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant and expanding his reach into neighboring Syria.
January – Al-Baghdadi’s forces overrun Iraqi city of Fallujah in western Anbar province and parts of nearby provincial capital of Ramadi. In Syria they seize sole control of Raqqa after driving out rival Syrian rebel factions.
February – Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahri disavows al-Baghdadi after Iraqi militant ignores his demands that IS leave Syria.
June – ISIS captures Mosul, Iraqi’s second largest city and pushes south as Iraqi forces crumble, eventually capturing Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit and reaching the outskirts of Baghdad. When they threaten Shiite holy sites, Iraq’s top Shiite cleric issues a call to arms, and volunteers largely backed and armed by Iran flood to join militias.
June 29 – Group renames itself the Islamic State and declares the establishment of a ‘caliphate’ in its territories in Iraq and Syria. Al-Baghdadi is declared the caliph.
July 4 – Al-Baghdadi makes his first public appearance, delivering a Friday sermon in Mosul’s historic al Nuri Mosque. He urges Muslims around world to swear allegiance to the ‘caliphate’ and obey him as its leader.
August – ISIS militants capture town of Sinjar west of Mosul and begin a systematic slaughter of followers of tiny Yazidi religious community. Women and girls are kidnapped as sex slaves and hundreds of them remain missing.
August 8 – U.S. launches its campaign of airstrikes against ISIS.
January – Iraqi Kurdish fighters knows as peshmerga, backed by U.S.-led airstrikes, drive ISIS out of several towns north of Mosul. In Syria, Kurdish fighters backed by U.S. airstrikes repel an ISIS onslaught on town of Kobani on the border with Turkey after heavy fighting. Kobani is first significant defeat for ISIS.
April 1 – U.S. backed Iraqi forces retake Tikrit, their first major victory against ISIS.
May 17 – ISIS militants capture remainder of Ramadi, the capital of Iraq’s Anbar province.
February 9 – Iraqi forces recapture Ramadi after months of fighting.Victory comes at enormous cost, with thousands of buildings destroyed or damaged. Almost entire population of hundreds of thousands of people fled the city.
June 26 – Fallujah is declared liberated by Iraqi forces after a five week battle.
July 3 – ISIS militants set off a gigantic suicide truck bomb outside a shopping mall in Baghdad, killing almost 300 people, deadliest attack since the 2003 U.S.-led invasion.
July 10 – Iraqi forces capture Qayara military base, south of Mosul, from ISIS militants.
October 17 – Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announces start of the operation to liberate Mosul
October 21 – ISIS militants and sleeper cells carry out a coordinated wave of attacks, shootings and suicide blasts in central city of Kirkuk, killing at least 80 people in an attempt to divert attention from the attack on Mosul.
November 1 – Iraqi forces enter Gogjali, easternmost district of Mosul.
January 24 – Al-Abadi announces eastern Mosul has been ‘fully liberated,’ but clearing operations on northern edges of the city continue for weeks.
February 19 – Iraqi forces begun assault on western Mosul. Within four days, troops retake Mosul’s airport and a nearby military base on the city’s southern edge.
March 17 – A single U.S. airstrike kills nearly 200 civilians sheltering in basement of a west Mosul home, according to residents interviewed by the Associated Press.
May 25 – Pentagon releases findings from an investigation into Mosul airstrike. The findings say more than 100 civilians were killed when a U.S. strike hit the building, but blamed deaths on explosives placed inside the house by ISIS fighters.
May 30 – Mostly Shiite militia forces reached border with Syria west of Mosul, establishing a key foothold that could aid forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad.
June 18 – Iraqi forces launch battle for Mosul’s Old City, last ISIS stronghold.
June 21 – As Iraqi forces close in on Mosul’s iconic al-Nuri mosque and it’s 12th century leaning minaret, ISIS destroys structure according to Iraqi and coalition officials. ISIS says a U.S. airstrike destroyed mosque and minaret.
July 10 – Iraqi Prime Minister al-Abadi declares victory over ISIS in Mosul and end of extremists’ so-called caliphate. Al-Abadi had made similar announcements in previous days despite ongoing clashes.