On Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced his country’s armed forces’ “victory” over Islamic State in the besieged city of Mosul, thus bringing an end to a gruelling nine-month battle to reclaim the Old City from the jihadist after three years of its rule. Mosul was the largest city that came under the clutches of the terror outfit and the battle for the city left thousands of civilians dead and displaced nearly one million people besides leaving large areas in ruins. “The commander in chief of the armed forces (Prime Minister) Haider al-Abadi arrived in the liberated city of Mosul and congratulated the heroic fighters and Iraqi people for the great victory,” his office said in a statement.
However, the group is expected to revert to more conventional insurgent tactics such as bombings. The United States-led international coalition has been conducting airstrikes against the militants and assisting Iraqi troops on the ground. The official statement also comes exactly three years after ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi had proclaimed a “caliphate” spanning Syria and Iraq from the pulpit of the medieval Grand al-Nuri mosque.
Here is a timeline showcasing key dates in the Iraqi offensive to recapture Mosul from ISIS (Daesh militants):
June 10, 2014– Al-Baghdadi’s fighters seized control over Iraq’s second-largest city of Mosul, followed by Saddam Hussein’s hometown of Tikrit and smaller communities in the Sunni heartland as government forces melted away.
June 29, 2014– The terror outfit declared the establishment of an Islamic state, or caliphate, in territories it controls in Iraq and Syria and demands allegiance from Muslims worldwide. It declares al-Baghdadi as the leader of the new caliphate.
October 17, 2016– Iraqi forces launched the assault against the ISIS militants. Tens of thousands of army, police and counter-terrorism troops are thrown into the long-awaited offensive with air and ground support from a US-led coalition. Kurdish forces also joined in operations north and east of the city.
November 1, 2016– The army said it has entered Mosul city for the first time since 2014.
Nov 3, 2016– Breaking a yearlong silence, Al-Baghdadi urged followers to fight to the death for Mosul in an audio recording. The Iraqi advance began to slow.
Nov 13, 2016– Iraq said it has recaptured Nimrud, an ancient city southeast of Mosul.
Nov 23, 2016– Shiite-dominated paramilitary units known as the Hashed Al-Shaabi said they have cut Daesh supply lines between Mosul and the militants’ Syrian stronghold Raqqa.
December 29, 2016– Ending a two-week pause, the government troops launched the second phase of their assault on east Mosul.
January 8, 2017– Iraqi units reached the Tigris River that divides Mosul and took up positions near one of the city’s five bridges, all have been destroyed.
Jan 24, 2017– The Joint Operations Command that coordinated the fight said the east has been “fully liberated.”
February 19, 2017– Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi announced the start of the battle for western Mosul, with Iraqi forces backed by coalition air power and close-in support from coalition advisers.
Feb 24, 2017– Iraqi forces took full control of Mosul airport and enter their first west Mosul neighbourhood. Three days later they seized control of a fourth bridge over the Tigris.
March 12, 2017– A US envoy said Iraqi troops had cut all roads into western Mosul, trapping remaining Daesh militants inside.
Mar 14, 2017– Iraqi forces said they had captured the city’s train station after reaching other symbolic sites such as the regional government headquarters and the city’s museum.
May 4, 2017– Iraqi forces launched a second front in northwestern Mosul to further seal the siege on the Old City, where Daesh has concentrated most of its resources.
May 16, 2017– A military spokesman said it has recaptured almost 90 percent of west Mosul.
June 18, 2017– Iraqi forces launched an assault to retake the Old City, where the UN said militants might be holding more than 100,000 civilians as human shields.
July 9, 2017– Iraqi PM Haider al-Abadi arrived in Mosul and congratulated the armed forces for their “victory” over Islamic State.
With AFP, Reuters inputs