Iraqi military forces paraded through the Iraqi capital Baghdad to celebrate the recapture of Mosul, the country’s second-largest city and former self-declared capital of the Islamic State (IS) militant group.
The celebration on July 15 comes a week after Prime Minister Haidar al-Abadi officially announced “victory" in Mosul over the IS extremists, who had held the northern city since taking it from government forces in 2014.
After Abadi announced the “complete liberation” of Mosul, he declared a weeklong celebration throughout the country, with parades being held in other Iraqi cities as well.
The Baghdad parade included members of the Iraqi army, the elite counter-terrorism forces, the federal police, and the government-allied Shi’ite militia known as the Popular Mobilization.
Reuters video showed soldiers marching with tanks and other military equipment through the streets of the capital with Abadi watching.
The celebrations took place despite reports of sporadic fighting between government forces and IS extremists in the Old City portion of west Mosul.
Iraqi counter-terrorism units reported on July 15 that they had detained 20 female IS members captured in a secret tunnel discovered under the Old City neighborhood of Quleiat.
"The women had weapons and explosive belts meant for attacking Iraqi troops" and included citizens of Germany, Russia, the Russian region of Chechnya, Turkey, Canada, Libya, and Syria, an official said.
IS captured Mosul in 2014 as it took large areas of territory from government forces in Iraq and Syria.
It was at Mosul’s historic Grand al-Nuri Mosque where IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi declared a "caliphate" in Syria and Iraq. The mosque was destroyed by IS fighters as U.S.-backed Iraqi troops closed in on their positions in June.
Russia and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights have said that Baghdadi has been killed in an air strike, but U.S. and Iraqi officials have not been able to confirm his death.
Elsewhere, U.S.-led coalition fighters have pushed the militants out of much of the territory they once held and are severely pressuring the group in Raqqa, their self-declared capital in Syria.
With reporting by dpa, Reuters, and The Washington Post