Robert Gehl reports that while the Iraqi prime minister headed to Mosul to declare victory over ISIS, the terrorist holdouts are resorting to the worst tactics ever.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi arrived in the former Islamic State-controlled city to declare the end of the evil caliphate and the end of a bloody campaign that lasted for nearly nine months. ISIS still controls their capital city of Raqqa, but it seems to be only a matter of time before that city falls too.
PM Al-Abadi arrives in Mosul to announce its liberation and congratulate the armed forces and Iraqi people on this victory pic.twitter.com/bUtkj7z88A
— Haider Al-Abadi (@HaiderAlAbadi) July 9, 2017
Mosul didn’t fall without some horrific scenes. Female Islamic State fighters began using their own children as human shields in their last-ditch attempt to defend the city as U.S.-led coalition forces closed in.
“The women are fighting with their children right beside them,” Lt. Gen. Sami al-Aridi told the Associated Press. “It’s making us hesitant to use air strikes, to advance. If it weren’t for this we could be finished in just a few hours.”
“For a child, even if his father is a criminal, what has he done?” Lt Gen al-Aridi said. “At the same time, my men are still taking casualties. We had 14 wounded today already.”
As the city was falling, ISIS deployed dozens of “jihadi brides” to conduct a series of suicide attacks, with as many as 20 detonations in the last week. One of those attacks killed 14 and injured 13.
Throughout the course of the battle, ISIS has committed a number of atrocities, including the use of chemical weapons, torture, and the gang rape of children as young as ten.
A report by the United Nations in April found that nearly 400,000 civilians had been displaced by the conflict, although 94,500 of them have been able to return to their homes as parts of the city have been liberated.
Meanwhile, troops continue to mop up the last pockets of resistance. Iraqi and coalition forces could still face suicide bombers and guerilla attacks for weeks. It will be a hard road ahead. There are homes, roads and bridges rigged with explosive booby traps that must be cleared so civilians can return, and other towns in Iraq still remain under the militants’ control.
“It’s going to continue to be hard every day,” said Col. Pat Work, the commanding officer of the Second Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division, which is carrying out the American advisory effort here.