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U.S. calls Mosul victory a 'critical milestone'

12 July 2017

"The scale and gravity of the loss of civilian lives during the military operation to retake Mosul must immediately be publicly acknowledged at the highest levels of government in Iraq and states that are part of the US -led coalition", said Lynn Maalouf, the research director for the Mideast at Amnesty.

While patriotic celebrations took place in other parts of the city, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi's spokesman, Saad al-Hadithi, said victory would not be formally declared until the few remaining militants were cleared from Mosul.

US President Donald Trump also praised the victory, saying it was a signal that IS's "days in Iraq and Syria are numbered".

Iraq declared victory in Mosul on Sunday but the United Nations said that though the battle against the Islamic State for Mosul ended, a humanitarian crisis persists as hundreds of thousands of residents can not return home.

Abadi hailed the recapture of Mosul where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared the creation of the group's self-styled "caliphate" three years ago as a historic moment in the battle against the extremists.

Meanwhile, airstrikes and exchanges of gunfire could still be heard in the narrow streets of Mosul's Old City on Monday, where IS has staged its last stand.

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Media caption The BBC reports from Mosul where rescue teams are searching for survivors
Media playback is unsupported on your device Media caption The BBC reports from Mosul where rescue teams are searching for survivors

The U.S. -led coalition warned that victory in Mosul did not mark the end of the group's global threat.

That final push poses significant danger to civilians in the area, whom the jihadists may use as human shields.

Iraq's Interior Ministry says more than half of all buildings in western Mosul, where the fighting was heaviest, were damaged or destroyed.

US -backed Iraqi forces launched a massive operation to retake Mosul in October, and in recent days they had confined the remaining militants in an area measuring less than a square kilometer (less than a mile).

The UN official noted that there have also been allegations of human rights violations and abuses by the Iraqi and associated forces, as well as by individuals taking revenge against captured IS fighters or people accused of supporting them.

"Through our rigorous targeting processes we will continue to seek to minimise the risk of civilian casualties, but that risk can never be removed entirely". In only the period covered by this report, in which Amnesty International documented 45 attacks, at least 426 civilians were killed as a result of attacks by Iraqi forces, who relied of imprecise and explosive weapons, and air strikes by coalition forces.

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U.S. calls Mosul victory a 'critical milestone'