Iraqi PM Declares End of ISIS After Three Years, but Jihadists Still Remain

(Photo: REUTERS/Ahmed Saad)Iraqi Federal Police members hold an Islamic State flag, which they pulled down during fighting in Mosul in July 2017.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi officially declared victory over the Islamic State terror group in his country, even as pockets of IS jihadists remain in Mosul fighting security forces.

Abadi insisted in a speech on Tuesday night that the months-long battle for the key city of Mosul has been won, and that Iraq can start rebuilding and recovering from the three-years-long invasion of the Islamic terrorists.

"Praise be to God, we managed to liberate (the city) and proved the others were wrong, the people of Mosul supported and stood with our security forces against terrorism," Abadi said in his statement, according to The Independent.

IS still holds significant territory in Syria, however, and continues to carry out suicide bombings and shooting rampages in other countries, such as in Egypt, where it has heavily targeted the Coptic Christian community.

The jihadist group has also made strides in the Philippines in recent times, and is reportedly keeping hundreds of civilian hostages in Marawi City as it engages in another battle with security forces.

Iraq's Prime Minister expressed confidence that IS' conquests in Iraq are over, however, and that the millions who've fled the region might start thinking about returning to their homes.

Analysts have said that even as IS loses territory, the threat of extremist attacks is far from over. Fears are that the radicals will continue to carry out sleeper cell assaults and suicide bombings in liberated areas, aimed at undermining efforts to bring back stability to the cities.

One man described the horrors civilians in Mosul have faced, telling The Associated Press, "That place, it was absolute death."

"We will never be the same. Once the fear has been planted in your heart, you can't get rid of it," he added.

Those who've set off on journeys to flee the jihadists have faced a shorage of food, water, and medicine, rescue officials have said.

Major Faris Aboud, who's working at a small field hospital just outside Mosul, said that in one day they received 300 wounded individuals.

"For me, seeing the wounded children is the hardest, we see children who have lost their entire families under the rubble, they have no one now," Aboud said.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the 200 or so IS fighters left fighting for Mosul are using desperate measures, such as sending women as suicide bombers against Iraqi forces.

"This is evidence that the terrorists are desperate now. The ideology of such foreign [fighters] is well known to us. They fight until the end, until they get killed," said Sabah al-Numan, a spokesman for Iraqi counterterrorism forces.

The International Organization for Migration has estimated that as many as 818,000 Iraqis, or half of Mosul's population, has been displaced since the war began.

Those fleeing in the summer months have faced increasingly high temperatures, hitting almost 120 degrees Fahrenheit, in their struggle to get to safety.

"We haven't had food or water for four days," said Zahdiya Ali, who traveled with two of her young daughters to a government checkpoint on the outskirts of Mosul.

"There were three to five [Islamic State] members in the area [in which we live]. They threatened that if we left they would shoot us in the legs, and told us that all the roads were planted with [improvised explosive devices] so we stayed in a small basement," she said, describing how jihadists attempted to force them to stay before they escaped.

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