Early Tuesday, the Department of Defense stated in a news release that after months of fighting, the Eastern part of Mosul in Iraq had been liberated from the Islamic State by Iraqi Security Forces and U.S. Advisers.
“While clearance operations are ongoing, the Iraqi security forces control all areas in the city east of the Tigris River, the east bank of the river around all five bridges crossing the Tigris River, Mosul University, and the Ninevah Ruins,” the Pentagon release stated.
Fighting around Mosul has escalated in recent months, with the Islamic State making last ditch efforts to hold onto occupied parts of the city in the face of advancing Iraqi Security Forces. A slew of guerrilla tactics had been used, from grenade laden commercial drones to suicide bombings.
“This is a monumental achievement for not only the Iraqi security forces and sovereign government of Iraq, but all Iraqi people,” Lt. General Stephen J. Townsend, the Commander of Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve, said.
“This would have been a difficult task for any army in the world. To see how far the Iraqis have come since 2014, not only militarily, but in their ability to put their differences aside and focus on a common enemy, gives real hope to the people of Iraq that after years of fighting and instability, peace and security are attainable. There is still a long way to go before ISIL is completely eliminated from Iraq, and the fight for western Mosul is likely to be even tougher than the eastern side. But the [Iraqis] have proven they are both a professional and formidable fighting force and I have every confidence that ISIL’s days are numbered in Iraq,” Lt. Gen. Townsend continued.
The advancements in Mosul, however, have pushed a majority of the Islamic State fighters that remain into northern Syria, where they maintain their de facto “second capital.” The operation to recapture the Syrian city of Raqqa is currently underway.