An important victory in the war on terror has finally be won, but you won’t see it taking up a 24-hour news cycle on CNN or MSNBC.
After more than eight months of hard fighting, U.S.-led coalition forces have managed to defeat the Islamic State (ISIS) in the Iraqi city of Mosul. (via Bloomberg)
Only a few pockets of ISIS soldiers still exist in the city. While there is still more work to be done when it comes to freeing the rest of Iraq from the terrorist group, this event marks a major coup against the scourge of Islamic terrorism.
In June of 2014, ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi announced that he would be leading an Islamic caliphate that spanned the borders of Iraq and Syria. The terrorist group ruled the city with brutal efficiency, imposing a strict version of Sharia Law. They routinely forced women to become sex slaves. They ruthlessly executed individuals for arbitrary religious violations. ISIS also persecuted religious minorities.
Nine months ago, the Iraqi military — with the help of the United States — began their campaign to purge ISIS from the city of Mosul. It was hoped that the battle would be a short one, but ISIS fought harder than expected. Iraqi military officials told The New York Times that the fight for Mosul was one of the hardest ever fought in the nation. The conflict was marked by sniper fire, booby traps, and house-to-house fighting.
An Iraqi general told The New York Times that he had never seen such a battle. He said, “We have been fighting for each meter. And when I say we have been fighting for each meter, I mean it literally.”
There have been a significant number of casualties as a result of this conflict. It is estimated that Iraqi military forces have lost over a thousand soldiers. Many more civilians have been killed during the fighting, although most of these deaths were caused by the Islamic State. In the final days of the battle, they trapped women and children, using them as human shields. Seven journalists have also lost their lives during the fighting.
Of course, ISIS has sustained most of the damage. According to The Washington Post, they have lost control of 60% of their territory. While the group still retains some power, it is clear that they are on the decline.
The defeat of ISIS in Mosul is a major victory for Iraq and the West. However, the conflict is not over. There are concerns about what will happen moving forward. What is truly alarming to many is the fact that the Iraqi government does not appear to have created a strategy to handle the potential fallout from the battle. There are still extremists groups in the area; some are backed by other nations such as Turkey and Iran.
Additionally, rebuilding the city will not be an easy task. Security forces could face booby traps, ISIS sleeper cells, and suicide bombers. ISIS may not have a cohesive force in the area, but they can still cause damage. Hopefully, the Iraqi government can take the steps necessary to ensure that terrorism is not able to re-emerge in a significant way.