U.S. Commander warns of rejoicing in victory: ‘ISIS 2.0’ lurks

Iraqis cheer success of ISIS ouster from Mosul, but top U.S. commander Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend warns against excess optimism.

Mordechai Sones,

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Mosul
Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Mosul

Iraqis may be cheering the success of government forces to oust ISIS from Mosul, but Lt. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the top U.S. commander in the country, warned against too much optimism.

The Express reports Townsend saying that much work is needed to ensure “ISIS 2.0” doesn’t weasel its way back into Mosul, saying that the Shia government will have to take further steps to reach out to the Sunni population of the country to stop regional tensions causing further conflict.

He said: “If we’re to keep … ISIS 2.0 from emerging, the Iraqi government is going to have to do something pretty significantly different.

“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.”

Iraq’s current Prime Minister is Haider al-Abadi, who represents the Shia State of Law coalition.

Jared Kushner (R) speaks with Lt. Gen. Stephen J. Townsend
צילום: Reuters

The country is one of the world’s few Shia governed states, while Iraq itself is divided between the 57 per cent Shia and 40 per cent Sunni population, as well as the majority Sunni Kurdish citizenry.

Mr Abadi formally declared victory over the ISIS regime in Iraq after a nearly nine-month battle against the Muslim group came to a close in Mosul.

Dressed in a black military uniform he heralded the “collapse of the terrorist state of falsehood” as he waved his nation’s flag.

In a speech shown on state television, he said: “I announce from here the end and the failure and the collapse of the terrorist state of falsehood and terrorism which the terrorist Daesh announced from Mosul.

Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi in Mosul
צילום: Reuters

“We have another mission ahead of us, to create stability, to build and clear Daesh cells, and that requires an intelligence and security effort, and the unity which enabled us to fight Daesh.”

President Donald Trump, meanwhile, issued congratulations to Iraq, and so did Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who called the fall of Mosul a “critical milestone” in the larger war against ISIS.