The second-largest city in Iraq is in ruins, but it appears at least one chapter in the long-running nightmare ISIS brought to Iraq and Syria is over, and the good guys won.
Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi was in Mosul Sunday to greet his forces and declare an end to the brutal 9-month long battle to re-take the city from the Islamic State. According to the New York Times report the fighting is far from over, but for all intents and purposes, ISIS is done in Iraq.
The Second Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division has been advising the Iraqi military as they take out jihadis, often block-by-block. Brigade commander Col. Pat Work told the Times that ensuring Mosul remains under Iraq's control is "going to continue to be hard every day."
Iraq's forces will "need to be on the top of their game," Col. Work continued, "and we need to be over their shoulder helping them as they move through this transition to consolidate gains and really sink their hold in on the west side."
The victory comes just over three years after ISIS head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced from a mosque in Mosul that his caliphate now stretched across a region of Iraq and Syria. ISIS may have, in a way, acknowledged their defeat when they recently destroyed that mosque as they retreated from the city.
There is a massive amount of work left to do, and there are still many reasons to worry over jihadis left behind. The Times quoted a Mosul council member who asked if others realized that "most of the ISIS fighters have shaved their beards and took off their clothes, and now they are free?"
At least they're on the run now, and those oppressed by the horrors of the Islamic State have a chance to breathe a little. Hopefully a few of those fleeing jihadis run into a very angry Iranian Hulk along the way.
h/t New York Times