The Daily Shot, Ricochet, June 30, 2017
The Battle of Mosul has been going on for eight months, but yesterday marked a turning point. Iraqi government troops captured the ruins of the Grand al-Nuri Mosque and shortly after the Iraqi government declared an end to the ISIS caliphate. The 850-year-old mosque carries enormous symbolic significance as it was the site where ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his only public appearance as leader of the group and where the caliphate was declared three years ago this month. To be clear, the Battle of Mosul of not over, as there are still ISIS fighters in a few neighborhoods in the Old City, but this is still a big deal.
Meanwhile, next door in Syria, the ISIS capital of Raqqa is now fully encircled by American-backed forces. They’re now set up for a battle with the 4,000 ISIS fighters believed to be still in the city. Unfortunately, there’s also 100,000 civilians trapped there too.
However, one group not in Raqqa is the ISIS leadership. They bugged out of the city back in March. And despite their collapsing military and financial situation, the group is believed to be sitting on enough captured weapons and cash to keep fighting for an extended period.