One local Iraqi has described the recapture of Mosul from Islamic State militants as an important step and a proud moment, albeit one which has come at a significant price.
Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi declared victory over Islamic State in Mosul on Monday, marking the biggest defeat for the Sunni militant group since its sweep through northern Iraq three years ago.
Shepparton Iraqi Sarmed Yassin highlighted the ‘‘happiness that is mixed with grief’’ following this week’s events, given the ‘‘very hefty cost’’ victory had come at.
‘‘A lot of lives lost, a lot of families destroyed, women widowed and children orphaned,’’ he said.
‘‘As much as we can say, we’re celebrating and happy,’’ he said, adding it had followed ‘‘a few years of grief’’ due to the lives lost defending the country.
He said a common theme in discussions between members of Shepparton’s Iraqi community included the recurring question, ‘‘when is this going to be over?’’
‘‘When are we going to have news, Iraq is now a country where things are normal ...’’ with ‘‘stability and safety’’.
Iraqi security forces still have to clear Islamic State fighters from a number of Iraqi towns, including Tal Afar and Hawija.
The campaign to retake Mosul from militants was launched last October by a 100000-strong alliance of Iraqi government units, Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shi’ite militias, with a US-led coalition providing key air and ground support.
Shepparton Ethnic Council manager Chris Hazelman expected the latest developments to increase pressure on countries to take humanitarian action.
‘‘I think the local community here are really concerned about the long-term future,’’ he said.
‘‘They’re not out waving flags, but it’s a step. There’s still cities under IS control.
‘‘It’s very symbolic,’’ he said, given Mosul was the biggest population centre the group had held in Iraq.
Mr Yassin saw the symbolism of the victory, especially given the base in the capital provided ‘‘a city they could operate from’’, but stressed that the ‘‘ideology still remains.’’
‘‘Until we can remove that ... that would be the real victory.’’
He stressed the victory shouldn’t be understated and demonstrated the resilience of the people of Iraq, praising ‘‘the brave men, women and children’’.
— With AAP