One year ago, Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi declared that the Isis extremist group had been defeated in Mosul, one of Iraq’s most historically important and populated cities.
Dressed in military fatigues and surrounded by his top brass, the Iraqi leader grandiosely declared on state television that the nine-month battle that had seen some of the deadliest and most destructive urban warfare since the Second World War had finally come to an end.
“From here, from the heart of free and liberated Mosul, by the sacrifices of the Iraqis from all the governorates, we announce the awaited victory to all of Iraq, and the Iraqis,” Abadi said, as plumes of acrid black smoke and the smell of death arose from the smouldering ruins of Mosul into the skies above him.
In scenes reminiscent of footage of Stalingrad after the Nazis were defeated in 1943, Mosul, Iraq’s second city, was left a shattered and devastated population centre. The city was almost completely destroyed in the fighting between Isis and federal government forces, supported by Iran-backed Shia Islamist militants and the full might of the US-led coalition’s air forces.