Iraq has declared victory over Islamic State as its army fully retook the city of Mosul.
“The commander in chief of the armed forces [Prime Minister] Haider al-Abadi arrived in the liberated city of Mosul and congratulated the heroic fighters and the Iraqi people for the great victory,” said a statement from his office on Sunday.
Iraqi officials predicted the defeat of IS several times over the past week as forces confined the militants to a small area of Old Mosul along the Tigris. In recent days, however, the pace of troop advancement had slowed.
Iraqi forces had been using coalition airstrikes and ground support for the offensive to take back Mosul, by far the largest city seized by Islamic State in its offensive three years ago when the ultra-hard-line group declared its caliphate over adjoining parts of Iraq and Syria.
Eight months of fighting has devastated much of Old Mosul, including the landmark 850-year-old Grand al-Nuri mosque and its leaning 45-meter minaret that jihadists recently blew up.