On sixth anniversary of Mosul’s occupation by ISIS, PM Kadhimi vows ‘never again’

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Lawk Ghafuri
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi vowed to prevent a repetition of the occupation and destruction of Mosul on Wednesday, marking the sixth anniversary of the Islamic State (ISIS) group’s capture of the city.

“We must never again allow what happened in 2014 to be repeated,” reads a tweet by the Iraqi government, attributed to the PM.

Kadhimi visited the liberated city of Mosul Wednesday for the first time in his tenure as Iraqi PM, where he met with several Iraqi military commanders and senior officials from Nineveh province, including Najim Al-Juburee, governor of Nineveh.

ISIS first swept into Iraq in 2014, capturing cities across northern and central Iraq including Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city and the capital of Nineveh province.

At the height of its power, ISIS controlled a contiguous area of Iraq and Syria equivalent in size to the entire United Kingdom, subjecting close to ten million people to its extreme interpretation of Islam.

ISIS also caused the forced displacement of more than a million Iraqis who fled the organization’s brutal violence. These internally displaced people (IDP’s) moved into camps, mostly located in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.

The city of Mosul was all but demolished during an offensive that saw Iraqi and Coalition forces battle ISIS to retake the city. Control was finally wrestled from the terrorist group in June 2017.

Three years on, the city remains mostly in ruins and its destroyed infrastructure has yet to be rebuilt or restored by the Iraqi government.

Kadhimi is said to have informed the Iraqi commanders and officials in Mosul that “corruption and mismanagement” have contributed to past disasters in Mosul.

“All Iraqis played a part in the liberation of Mosul. Iraq was victorious thanks to their [sacrifices] and to the heroism of the Iraqi Armed Forces,” reads another tweet attributed to Kadhimi.

Although the Iraqi government announced the territorial defeat of ISIS in December 2017, remnants of the group have since returned to their earlier insurgency tactics, ambushing security forces, kidnapping and executing suspected informants, and extorting money from vulnerable rural populations.

Having lost all of its urban strongholds, the group is now most active in Iraq’s remote deserts and mountains, and in the disputed territories contested by the federal government and the autonomous Kurdish region, where a wide security vacuum has opened up.

ISIS has been held responsible for a spate of attacks on the Iraqi Security Forces and Popular Mobilization Forces (PMF, also known as Hashd al-Shaabi in Arabic) units.

The latest Pentagon Inspector General report, covering January 1 to March 31, said ISIS remnants are “regrouping and reforming” and continue to pose a threat in both Iraq and Syria.

“US CENTCOM in February described ISIS as ‘regrouping and reforming’ in the Makhmour Mountains in northern Iraq, while the 2021 DoD budget justification for overseas contingency operations said that ISIS is expected to seek to re-establish governance in northern and western areas of Iraq,” the Lead Inspector General’s report said.