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Iraq must stop IS 2.0, says US commander Stephen Townsend

By Ians

Baghdad, July 11: Despite a "historic" victory in Mosul, the war against the Islamic State (IS) terror group is not over, warned Stephen Townsend, the senior US commander in Iraq has warned.

This undated frame grab from video posted online Friday, May 19, 2017 by supporters of the Islamic State militant group, shows IS fighters who recently joined the group receiving military training in the eastern Syrian province of Deir el-Zour. PTI file photo

Stephen Townsend told the BBC late Monday there were still IS fighters in Iraq.

"If we're to keep IS 2.0 from emerging, the Iraqi government is going to have to do something pretty significantly different," he said.

"They're going to have to reach out and reconcile with the Sunni population, and make them feel like their government in Baghdad represents them," he told the BBC.

On Sunday, Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi formally declared victory over IS in Mosul, after a nearly nine-month battle that left large areas in ruins, killed thousands of civilians and displaced more than 920,000 others.

Abadi waved a national flag with troops after announcing the "collapse of the terrorist state of falsehood".

The US-led coalition confirmed that while areas of the Old City still had to be cleared of explosive devices and possible IS fighters in hiding, the Iraqi security forces had Mosul "firmly under their control", reports the BBC.

Meanwhile, in a report on Tuesday, Amnesty International said Iraqi and coalition forces had used unnecessarily powerful weapons in densely-populated areas.

IS fighters were also accused by Amnesty of committing serious abuses.

IS militants overran Mosul in June 2014, before seizing control of large parts of northern and western Iraq. The following month, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi made his first and only public appearance as IS leader at the city's Great Mosque of al-Nuri, and gave a speech proclaiming the creation of a "caliphate".

As Iraqi troops prepared to retake the mosque almost exactly three years later IS blew it up. Iraq's prime minister called it a "formal declaration of defeat".


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