Days after the Iraqi troops' recapture of the Great Mosque of al-Nuri in Mosul, from where Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed himself leader of the terror group three years ago, residents are preparing to celebrate an expected victory in the city. But on Monday, two women suicide bombers targeted troops in the mosque area.
Iraqi troops, who are supported by a U.S.-led international coalition, hung white banners and the country's flags on lamp posts and damaged buildings Sunday as authorities are planning a week of nationwide celebrations, according to Reuters.
Taking back Mosul from Islamic State, also known as IS, ISIS, ISIL and Daesh, will effectively mark the end of the caliphate in Iraq.
"I think ISIS is clearly defeated, not only militarily but also psychologically and propagandisticly," Ely Karmon, a senior research scholar at the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at Israel's Interdisciplinary Center, told CBC News. "We see that their propaganda material, which was quite sophisticated, is less and less disseminated. We don't hear the leaders of ISIS on audio or video."
While ISIS now controls just over 1 square kilometer in all, according to The Associated Press, the battle for Mosul has been going on for nearly nine months, displacing almost half of the city's population and killing thousands.
At one point, ISIS controlled 56,420 square miles of area in Iraq and Syria, but it has now come down to 22,493 square miles, according to IHS Markit Conflict Monitor.
The Monitor's recent report also states, "As the 'Caliphate' shrinks, the Islamic State's average monthly revenue has fallen dramatically from $81 million in Q2 2015 to $16 million in Q2 2017, a reduction of 80 percent. This includes a steady decline in all of the group's financial streams: oil production and smuggling, taxation and confiscation, and other illicit activities. Average monthly oil revenue is down 88 percent, and income from taxation and confiscation has fallen by 79 percent, compared to our initial estimate in 2015."
Meanwhile, in Monday's suicide attack in the area of the destroyed al-Nuri Mosque, at least one soldier was killed and several others wounded. The bombers hid among a group of fleeing civilians to launch the attack.
Iraqi forces began the efforts to retake the Old City in mid-June, and while their mission in southern parts has successfully ended, those areas still needed to be cleared of explosives and corpses from two weeks of fighting, federal police chief Lieutenant General Raed Shakir Jawdat was quoted as saying.
"Unfortunately until now there are families besieged and there are many discarded enemy corpses, and unfortunately many civilians have been martyred, so we must remove them," he said. "The areas must be cleared of bombs. We must make the areas safe so that civilians can return."
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi claimed victory after the retake of the mosque. "We are seeing the end of the fake 'Daesh' state, the liberation of Mosul proves that," he tweeted. "We will not relent, our brave forces will bring victory."
However, thousands of residents are still believed to be trapped in the Old City with little access to food, water or medicine.