Iraqi intelligence refutes reports on IS leader al-Baghdadi's death


English edition of Asharq Al-Awsat - the world's premier pan-Arab daily.

After eight months of hard urban warfare, Iraqi military forces on June 29 captured the Mosul mosque at the heart of the strategic northern city, where Daesh had declared its de facto capital.

The celebration on July 15 comes a week after Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi officially announced "victory" in Mosul over the IS extremists, who had held the northern city since taking it from government forces in 2014.

"We have another mission ahead of us, to create stability, to build and clear ISIS cells, and that requires an intelligence and security effort, and the unity which enabled us to fight ISIS", he said before raising an Iraqi flag. Baghdad and other provinces nationwide are now witnessing Iraqis celebrating ISIS terrorists being driven out of their former bastion Mosul.

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"The rough terrorism in the region is nothing separated from the USA proxy war and therefore, the terrorists' failure in major parts of Iraq, specially Mosul, is considered as the United States failure in the region and means victory of resistance (front)", General Jazzayeri said.

An official week-long celebration was declared countrywide. IS is still holding some remote parts of Iraq and major Syrian cities, such as Raqqa, its de facto capital in Syria.

Since the battle to retake Mosul began nine months ago, an estimated 862,000 people have been displaced from the city, although 195,000 have since returned, mainly to the liberated east of the city.

Operations backed by the US-led coalition against Islamic State in both Iraq and Syria since late 2014 have pushed the militants out of much of the territory it once controlled.