Iraqis celebrate 'historic victory' over terrorism in Mosul
Iraq declared Tuesday (July 11th) a national holiday and launched week-long celebrations and events to mark the liberation of Mosul from the "Islamic State of Iraq and Syria" (ISIS).
Iraqi PM Haider al-Abbadi declared a victory over "brutality and terrorism" in Mosul on Monday after his forces ended ISIS's rule over the country's second city.
Flanked by soldiers, al-Abbadi hailed the retaking of Mosul -- where ISIS dealt Iraqi forces a devastating defeat three years ago -- as a historic moment in the battle against the extremists.
"Our victory today is a victory over darkness, a victory over brutality and terrorism, and I announce to the whole world today the end and failure and collapse of the mythical terrorist state," al-Abbadi said in a televised address from west Mosul.
As soon as the victory announcement was made, a large number of citizens took to the streets of Baghdad and other Iraqi cities to celebrate this "historic victory".
They gathered in public squares in the capital Baghdad up to a late hour waving Iraqi flags, dancing popular dances and singing patriotic songs to the buzz of music.
Streets were filled with cars where passengers uttered ululations of joy, and fireworks lit the city's sky.
"It is truly an unforgettable day," said Hussein Mazen, 44, of al-Mansour neighbourhood, who took to the street to celebrate with his family.
"Our heroic forces have crushed ISIS's mythical state," he told Diyaruna.
Hussein's wife, Hadeel Farouq, 37, said as she was waving the Iraqi flag, "Our forces have achieved a historic victory and avenged all the innocent people killed by the terrorists."
Hundreds of citizens flocked to Tahrir Square in the heart of Baghdad.
"Congratulations to all Iraqis and to the world for this victory against the enemies of humanity," said civil activist Mohammed al-Taei.
"Today, justice and freedom have prevailed over oppression and injustice," he told Diyaruna from Tahrir Square. "Mosul has returned to the homeland, and with our unity, we will preserve our country."
Iraqi aircraft on Monday evening dropped 3 million maps of Mosul with the Iraqi flag drawn on it as a symbol of the city's full return to the country.
In eastern Mosul, large-scale celebrations were also held across the city.
"The happiness of Iraqis, especially the people of Mosul, for the recapture of their city is indescribable," Iraqi MP for Ninawa province Ahmed Madloul al-Jarba told Diyaruna.
"Two years ago, we could not imagine that a day would come when our city will be liberated," he told Diyaruna. "However, that day came thanks to the sacrifices and courage of our fighters who achieved an unparalleled victory."
"This victory will boost the determination of our forces to crush terrorism in its last strongholds in the country," he said, adding that "our happiness will be complete with the expulsion of the last ISIS element from our land".
"We have to immediately start cleansing Mosul of ISIS remnants, reconstructing the city, helping residents return and establishing civil peace and stability," al-Jarba said.
"It will not be an easy mission, but with our efforts and national unity, we will overcome all challenges and create a prosperous future for Mosul," he added.
On Tuesday, Iraqi forces were already combing and cleaning the streets of Mosul from all war remnants and debris.
"Iraqi army forces have started removing mines, explosives and weapons left behind by ISIS, as well as lifting rubble and burning vehicles in west Mosul's Old City and other neighborhoods north and west of Mosul," Joint Operations Command spokesman Brig. Gen. Yayha Rasul told Diyaruna.
"Activists and volunteers from all over Iraq will be joining us in this task, which we consider a battle for the reconstruction and rehabilitation of Mosul and the return of its people," he said.