Iraqi officials have announced a magnificent victory over ISIS. However, U.S. military officials are saying that the announcement is misleading. Meanwhile, ISIS has gained new ground in Syria.
Magnificent Victory in Iraq over ISIS
Iraq’s defense minister Khalid al-Obeidi announced that their mission in Iraq to combat ISIS is already accomplished, calling it a “magnificent victory.”
“We have the pleasure, with all our pride, to announce the good news of a magnificent victory. Here we come to you, Anbar! Here we come to you, Nineveh, and we say it with full resolution, confidence, and persistence,” Obeidi said in a video statement released on Wednesday.
Interior Minister Mohammed Salem al-Ghabban was also celebratory in his statement.
“After clearing the area from roadside bombs and car bombs, we will reopen police stations to restore normalcy in the city, and we will form committees to supervise the return of people displaced from their homes. Daesh (ISIS) is completely defeated,” al-Ghabban said, as quoted by Fox News.
However, a U.S. military officer who has spoken under the condition of anonymity said Obeidi’s announcement was “probably a little misleading.” The official said the operation in Iraq against ISIS is still in the clearing stage.
“Iraqi security forces are still fighting block to block in some cases, particularly in the northern part of Tikrit. This operation is still in the clearing stage… but… we are confident that Tikrit has been seized from ISIS,” the U.S. official told Fox News.
The official said ISIS members are still scattered around the region.
“The fire is out, but some embers remain,” he said. Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi has spoken in the same tune, saying more time is needed to clear the region from ISIS booby traps.
Iraqi federal police commander, Jawdat Shakir, also said the same. Iraqi forces were able to kill more than 150 Islamic State fighters, defused an estimated 520 planted landmines and seized 13 factories used by ISIS to make bombs, Shakir told RUDAW.
However, security forces still need more time to put down the remaining units of ISIS inside Tikrit.
ISIS gained new ground in Syria
Meanwhile, ISIS has gained control over a new territory in Hama, Yarmouk district and Damascus. According to an unnamed journalist who spoke with The New York Times, ISIS has launched an attack in one of Syria’s key village. The journalist said 48 people had died because of the attack.
Villagers were also angry at the government for being reluctant about the gravity of the situation. One resident said that forces came to the rescue nine hours late.
“ISIS was moving freely in the village, knocking on the doors, taking people randomly. I lived hours not knowing what to do, waiting for my turn to come,” the locale told The New York Times over Skype.
The resident said that there were 35 bodies, mostly women, children and the elderly being given medical attention at a nearby hospital.
“I couldn’t distinguish between faces, fully covered with blood. Bodies were packed over each other,” the resident said. He added that the government may want men to witness the violence for them to be forced to join the army.
According to the New York Times, locales were also victimized by the atrocities conducted by other terrorist groups, including the Nusra Front and Ahrar al-Sham.
Also read: ISIS Releases ‘Hit List’
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