Mosul, Iraq – Iraqi forces recaptured the eastern half of the Iraqi city of Mosul on Friday after a day of fierce fighting that included intense clashes with ISIS militants.
Iraqi forces had seized the eastern and western half of Mosul, the last major city in the Nineveh Plains, on Thursday night, as ISIS fighters tried to push into the city.
In the eastern part of the city, the Iraqi army retook the western and eastern neighbourhoods of Ramadi, Hawija and al-Jadida.
The capture of Mosul was a major victory for the Iraqi government, which launched a counteroffensive in early October to retake the city from ISIS.
The operation has been criticised by US President Donald Trump, who said last week that it would have “no impact on the security situation” in the country.
The Iraqi government has also vowed to rebuild the city’s western half and prepare for the liberation of the eastern one.
The battle for Mosul was the first major battle between Iraqi forces and ISIS militants in Iraq since the US-led coalition launched air strikes in October.
The operation to retake Mosul began with the US and its Iraqi allies on September 30, which targeted ISIS positions in western Mosul and eastern Mosul, which are located on the Tigris river.
The military said the air campaign would be extended to northern and western Mosul, and to the western neighbourhoods of Hawija, al-Wadi and al-‘Arabiya, as well as the western part of Ramadah.
“We will rebuild this city as quickly as possible,” said Major General Abdulrahman al-Nujaifi, head of the joint operations command, according to a statement.
Nuzaifi said the Iraqi forces will continue to fight for the “liberation of Mosul from the terrorists”, according to the Iraqi Defense Ministry.
“Iraq is committed to liberating Mosul and we will not rest until this city is liberated from terrorism,” he said.US President Donald J Trump told reporters on Thursday that “we’re going to finish the job” in Mosul, despite concerns that Iraqi forces may not be able to do so.US air strikes have killed more than 2,000 ISIS fighters in Mosul and other areas of the Ninevah Plains since they began, with the United States saying the militants have been using improvised explosive devices and suicide attacks to inflict damage on Iraqi forces.
A US military spokesman said on Thursday it was “too soon to know” the exact death toll in the fighting, adding the US military was working closely with Iraqi forces to determine how many civilians were killed.
Iraq’s prime minister, Haider al-Abadi, said the Mosul operation would not affect the security of the country and it was not feasible to take the city back to Baghdad, which is still under the control of ISIS.
“I know we have fought hard for the past six months.
We fought for Mosul and for the entire Nineveh Plain,” he told reporters.”
The war for Mosul will continue in the coming days and we are ready to take back Mosul.”
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider Al-Abidin is seen in this undated handout picture provided by the Iraqi Ministry of Defense.
In a statement on Friday, the military said more than 200,000 civilians had been killed in the battle for the city and more than 3.8 million civilians displaced, according a statement by the defence ministry.
“In total, 1.7 million civilians have been killed and 3.5 million displaced,” it said.